7:00 PM ET, December 19, 2006
CANCUN, Mexico (AP) -- It's that time of year for final exams and long layoffs in college basketball. The rust showed on No. 4 Duke.The Blue Devils (10-0) tied a season-high with 23 turnovers and needed a spark in the second half to beat Bowling Green (No. 21 ESPN/USA Today, No. 25 AP) 55-46 in the Caribbean Classic Tournament on Tuesday.Bowling Green led 31-26 about 3½ minutes into the second half, but the Blue Devils answered with a 14-0 run that put away the Falcons (7-2)."We've been off for finals for more than a week," said Duke coach Gail Goestenkors, whose team last played Texas on Dec. 10. "We looked very rusty."Duke clamped down on defense with an aggressive press and Wanisha Smith scored nine of her 11 points in the second half to hold off Bowling Green.Alison Bales and Lindsey Harding had 13 points apiece for the Blue Devils."Our defense is our bread and butter," said Bales, who added seven blocks and broke the ACC's career blocks record.The 6-foot-7 center has 335 blocks, surpassing the previous record of 330 held by Virginia's DeMya Walker.Bowling Green kept the game from getting out of hand in the first half thanks to seven steals and Duke's 12 turnovers."I thought we had the right tempo tonight. I didn't think we could get into a shootout," Falcons coach Curt Miller said. "You could tell we've been off for a while."Ali Mann led Bowling Green with 15 points, all in the second half.Duke led 25-23 at halftime thanks to nine points from Bales, who went 4-of-6 from the floor and 1-of-1 from the free-throw line.The Falcons kept the score close with 10 points from Kate Achter, who was 3-of-3 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line.Bowling Green opened the second half with an 8-0 run on a pair of 3-pointers and a two-point basket by Mann.But Duke answered with 14 consecutive points, including four by Harding, to regain control."We lost an opportunity for a huge upset, but we earned a lot of national respect," Miller said.Mann kept the Falcons in the game and Bowling Green crept back to 43-39 with 6:10 remaining, but Smith had four points over the final four minutes and Duke closed the game with an 8-3 run."That was the closest game we've had all year long," Goestenkors said.The nation's sixth-leading offense, averaging 82.1 points coming into the game, had just 14 points at the 10-minute mark.The Blue Devils committed 12 first-half turnovers, including four by guard Abby Waner. Carin Horne had three of Bowling Green's seven steals by halftime.
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