RALEIGH, N.C. -- Duke's big lead nearly vanished, and physical Temple was bruising the Blue Devils, delivering just the kind of postseason gut-check that championship-level teams must overcome.
The Blue Devils did, and now they're headed back to the NCAA Tournament's round of 16.
Lindsey Harding had 13 of her 18 points in the first half, and top-seeded Duke withstood Temple's comeback bid, winning 62-52 on Tuesday in the second round of the Greensboro Regional.
"This was a great game for us to have to play -- we had to fight for what we wanted," coach Gail Goestenkors said. "It did not come easily. It was certainly not given to us. ... It was good for us to have to face that."
Wanisha Smith scored 15 points and Carrem Gay added 13 points and 11 rebounds for Duke (32-1), which blew most of a big early lead, overcame leading scorer Abby Waner's foul trouble and pulled away late to beat the eighth-seeded Owls and advance to the round of 16 for the 10th straight year.
Now, it's on to nearby Greensboro, where the Blue Devils will face the Michigan State-Rutgers winner in the regional semifinals.
That was the site of Duke's only loss of the season, a 70-65 defeat to an inspired North Carolina State team in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. The last time Duke's NCAA Tournament path went through Greensboro, the Blue Devils advanced to their first Final Four in 1999.
"We're going to take the things we need to work on from this game, and we're going to keep adding on to it," Smith said. "We're going to have to come ready to play."
Duke, which was outscoring its opponents by 25 points per game, led by 14 in the first half before its lead was trimmed to 51-46 on Lady Comfort's layup with 9:21 left. The Blue Devils countered with a 9-0 burst, sealing the outcome by holding Temple scoreless for six minutes.
"They were doing a good job getting the ball inside to Comfort and taking those 15-foot pull-ups," said Harding, the ACC's two-time defensive player of the year. "We wanted to limit that, and I think at that point we were doing a good job ... forcing them to take difficult shots, and that, I think, saved us and turned the game around for us."
Duke, which lost in last year's national championship game, denied the Owls their first trip to the regional semifinals. The Blue Devils have won at least two games in every NCAA Tournament since 1997, while Temple's first-round victory over Nebraska two days earlier was just its third tournament win ever.
Fatima Maddox scored 18 points for the Owls (25-8), who closed the season with losses in three of five. Kamesha Hairston had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and the 6-foot-2 Comfort added 12 points while holding 6-7 Duke center Alison Bales to a season-worst four points on 2-of-9 shooting.
"I knew coming out there that I had to be real physical with her, not let her get her numbers -- her rebounds and her points," Comfort said. "I knew I had to play my game, even though she's taller than me ... and take her out of hers."
Bales wasn't the only Blue Devil to struggle. Waner, who had six 3-pointers and 26 points in the first round against Holy Cross, finished with eight points after picking up her fourth foul with 11 minutes left and playing just 20 minutes.
"We wanted [Harding] more offensive-minded so the Waners wouldn't get their looks, Alison Bales wouldn't get her looks," Temple coach Dawn Staley said. "The strange thing is, Carrem Gay was hurting us because she was cleaning up missed shots and putbacks."
Goestenkors and Staley both are assistants for the U.S. national team that won the bronze in last summer's world championships. Staley, formerly a star guard at Virginia, also played on the U.S. team assisted by Goestenkors in the 2002 championships and 2004 Olympics.