3:00 PM ET, March 2, 2007
GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Duke had little trouble staying unbeaten while opening Atlantic Coast Conference tournament play. Things figure to get a little tougher the rest of the way.Abby Waner scored 17 of her 24 points in the first half to lead the top-ranked Blue Devils past Virginia 79-58 in the quarterfinals Friday, marking the 13th straight year the Blue Devils won their tournament opener.Alison Bales had 13 points, eight rebounds and six blocks for the Blue Devils (30-0), the tournament's top seed and the nation's last unbeaten team. Duke advanced to the semifinals on Saturday against North Carolina State (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today; No. 24 AP), which beat Florida State 76-49 earlier on Friday.The Blue Devils were in control the entire way against the eighth-seeded Cavaliers (17-14), winning for the 13th straight meeting. The win also gave Duke its seventh straight 30-win season to set an NCAA record; Louisiana Tech twice had six straight 30-win seasons.As they have all season, the Blue Devils did it with a balanced effort. Waner provided the offense. The 6-foot-7 Bales anchored the interior. And the rest of the Blue Devils made up for an off day from league player of the year Lindsey Harding.The Blue Devils expect that formula will keep working when they face the Wolfpack, winners of 9 of 10. And if they win that one, fourth-ranked North Carolina or sixth-ranked Maryland likely will await in the championship game."Everybody had a new role this year, and they embraced their roles," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "Together we make it work. The great thing is that we have tremendous balance. If one person isn't hitting, we don't worry and we don't panic. We know we've got other players ready and willing to step up."Duke took a double-digit lead midway through the first half against Virginia, led 38-25 at the break and pushed its margin to as many as 23 points after halftime.Waner was the only Blue Devil to turn in a big offensive game, going 6-for-9 and hitting all five 3-point attempts in the first half. She added another 3 in the second half, finishing 9-for-17 from the field with six rebounds and four assists."I don't know if Coach wants to hear this, but most of the time I don't really think about where I am [during a shot]," Waner said. "I guess it's a mentality I have. When I was growing up, I played against boys a lot. They're a lot more athletic, quicker and jump higher, so that forced me to get my shot off quicker."Carrem Gay and Joy Cheek each added 10 points for Duke, while Wanisha Smith finished with six points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Harding finished with six points on 3-for-8 shooting with four assists and five turnovers.But Duke didn't need a big offensive showing considering the way it played defense, holding the Cavaliers to 30 percent shooting while scoring 18 points off 17 turnovers. That included shutting down Lyndra Littles -- a second-team all-ACC performer -- to seven points on 2-for-14 shooting.Monica Wright had 18 points and nine rebounds to lead the Cavaliers, who reached the quarterfinals with an 89-82 win against ninth-seeded Clemson in the first round on Thursday."We started the game off with a lot of energy," Virginia coach Debbie Ryan said. "But it was evident from the start that Duke's defense was making us play too fast offensively. And regardless of the adjustments that we made, we never really got ourselves into any sort of a comfortable pattern offensively the entire game."
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||20-67 (.299)||30-66 (.455)|
|3P Made-Attempted||2-13 (.154)||8-18 (.444)|
|FT Made-Attempted||16-18 (.889)||11-14 (.786)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||16 (0/0)||19 (0/0)|