Michigan State 61

(24-10, 11-6 Big Ten)

Duke 86

(29-3, 12-2 ACC)

    7:00 PM ET, March 26, 2006

    Webster Bank Arena, Bridgeport, Connecticut

    1 2 T
    MSU 37 2461
    DUKE 45 4186

    Top Performers

    Michigan St: V. Lucas-Perry 17 Pts, 3 Reb

    Duke: M. Currie 17 Pts, 3 Reb

    Currie, Duke cruise past MSU, into Elite Eight

    BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Duke has one of the deepest benches in the country.

    That depth helped the Blue Devils wear down Michigan State and cruise to an 86-61 win Sunday night in the Bridgeport Regional semifinal.

    "I think it's quality depth," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said of her bench which scored 32 points. "A lot of teams have a lot of players, but our bench is productive, probably as productive as any team in the country."

    Monique Currie scored 17 points and center Alison Bales dominated inside to get top-seeded Duke (29-3) to its sixth regional final. The Blue Devils will play second-seeded Connecticut on Tuesday night.

    Abby Waner led the Duke reserves with 14 points that included a momentum-killing 3-pointer in the first half.

    "One of our biggest strengths is we like to run and press," Waner said. "That comes from our depth, that wears people out. I think that's really evident toward the end of the game when are still running the floor."

    The Blue Devils had an answer for every Michigan State run early on -- then ran away with the game in the second half and led by as many as 27 in the closing minutes.

    Currie was one of six Blue Devils in double figures. Bales, Duke's career blocks leader gave the Spartans (24-10) few second chances. Seven of her eight rebounds were on the defensive end and helped get the Blue Devils' transition off and running with every Michigan State miss. Duke had 18 points off the fast break and outscored the Spartans 48-22 in the paint.

    Mistie Williams had 13 points and a season-high four steals for the Blue Devils, who scored 23 points off turnovers.

    "In the first half we trapped their screens a little bit and they made us pay for it," Goestenkors said. "We knew we needed to lock down on defense in the second half and we did. That was really the difference."

    The inside combination of Bales and Williams helped neutralize Liz Shimek, MSU's career scoring and rebounding leader. Shimek finished with five points. Victory Lucas-Perry had 17 points to lead the Spartans, last year's NCAA runner-up.

    "They are a pretty big team. We tried to get Liz to step out a little bit... but I think they did a great job being aware of where Liz was on the floor," Michigan coach Joanne P. McCallie.

    Michigan State hung around for the first 10 minutes of the game and was down by just a basket after a quick 7-2 run that got the Spartans fans into the game. The Blue Devils silenced them quickly with a 3-pointer from Jessica Foley and poured it on with a 13-4 run, capped by another Foley 3-pointer.

    The Spartans had one more run in them as the first half wound down. Lucas-Perry's hit a 3 with 35 seconds left to close out a 7-0 run and cut the deficit to five.

    But the Blue Devils came right back with a 3-pointer, this time from Waner in the final seconds and took a 45-37 lead into the half. The play was designed for Lindsey Harding to penetrate the lane. She did and spied a wide-open Waner on the wing.

    "We didn't want to go out this way," Shimek said. "It hurts a lot right now. Duke is just a great team and they had a great balance."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 61 86
    FG Made-Attempted 23-62 (.371) 35-64 (.547)
    3P Made-Attempted 5-22 (.227) 7-21 (.333)
    FT Made-Attempted 10-13 (.769) 9-10 (.900)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 14 (0/0) 13 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 1 29

    Game Leaders

    PointsV. Lucas-Perry 17M. Currie 17
    ReboundsL. Shimek 8A. Bales 7


    » Mar 26, 2006 @DUKE 86, MSU 61Recap | Box Score