7:00 PM ET, January 18, 2007
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Brittany Mitch had nothing to do with Duke's biggest victory of the season last week against Maryland. The freshman made up for it by saving her team from a letdown.Benched for the Blue Devils' win over the Terrapins, Mitch scored eight of her 10 points during a decisive spurt Thursday night and No. 1 Duke went on to a 65-51 victory over pesky North Carolina State."I got the chance to talk to [coach Gail Goestenkors] after the [Maryland] game and talked about what I need to do to help myself and help the team," Mitch said. "She said, 'Be aggressive.' So that's what I did tonight -- I was aggressive."The Blue Devils (19-0, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) were playing for the first time since they upset the Terrapins and took over their top spot in the rankings. Duke shook off a slow start, used a 27-8 run that bridged halftime to take command and remained one of two unbeaten teams in both the country and the conference.Now, they can focus on their next challenge -- Monday's visit to No. 4 Tennessee."It's about this team getting better and better," Goestenkors said. "It was about showing N.C. State and ourselves that we're not going to overlook anybody. [The Wolfpack] were hoping that because of the Maryland win and the No. 1 ranking that we weren't going to come to play."Lindsey Harding added 10 points for Duke, which shot 43 percent and led by 21 in its 10th straight victory against the Wolfpack."You don't want to say it's difficult, but you can't forget about State," Harding said. "Everyone's talking about Maryland, and everyone's talking about Tennessee. ... I knew [the Wolfpack] were going to come out strong and confident."Gillian Goring had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead N.C. State (13-6, 2-2), which outrebounded Duke 41-37 but lost on its home court for the first time in 11 games this season."We missed a lot of shots in the paint, either off penetration or cuts that really became a factor in the game," N.C. State interim coach Stephanie Glance said. "We got outside our system a couple times. When we did, Duke made us pay for it."The Wolfpack led 26-22 with about four minutes left before halftime when Mitch rallied the Blue Devils.She scored eight consecutive points, opening the spurt with a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired."At that point, I think our energy perhaps dropped slightly," Glance said.Then, her three-point play put the Blue Devils ahead to stay, and she added a steal and a layup seconds later to extend the lead to 30-26."We didn't have the momentum at all in the first half. Brit came in, played with some emotion and those buckets she hit were all huge buckets," Goestenkors said. "It really gave us an emotional lift. Before that, I thought we were a little bit tentative. It was contagious for us in the second half."Later in the run, the Blue Devils took their first double-figure lead early in the second half when Abby Waner's layup made it 40-30. Alison Bales closed the run when her layup made it 49-34 with about 14 minutes left.The Wolfpack didn't get closer than 13 the rest of the way.This is the fifth straight season the Blue Devils have been ranked No. 1, and they join archrival North Carolina (20-0) as the only teams in Division I with perfect records.N.C. State fell to 1-17 against No. 1 teams, with its only victory coming on Jan. 12, 1978, when the Wolfpack beat Wayland Baptist 98-86.Since then, they've lost 17 straight against top-ranked teams and are the only squad so far to play two No. 1 teams this season -- the Wolfpack previously lost to then-No. 1 Maryland 80-61 on Jan. 3.Glance is filling in for Hall of Fame coach Kay Yow, who took leave in November to battle breast cancer. Most players on both teams wore pink laces on their right shoes in Yow's honor.
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