8:00 PM ET, March 7, 2008
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Duke was staring at yet another loss midway through the second half when Keturah Jackson and Abby Waner had a heart-to-heart chat on the bench."K.J. was just like, 'Look guys, it's now or never,'" Waner said. "'We can't wait until the last two minutes to try to beat them."So, Waner didn't.She scored all 14 of her points during the decisive run and hit Duke's first 3-pointer in nearly two weeks to lift the 12th-ranked Blue Devils past Florida State 81-67 in an Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinal Friday night.Chante Black scored 20 points to lead the Blue Devils (22-8), who eventually bounced back from a 31-point loss at rival North Carolina, overcoming a slow start and scoring 16 straight points during the 30-9 run that put them in control.In winning their tournament opener for the 14th straight year, they advance to face No. 5 Maryland and 6-foot-2 Crystal Langhorne, the ACC player of the year, in a semifinal Saturday."I have Chante Black sitting next to me," Waner said during the postgame news conference, "so I'm not too worried about problems on the interior. I have all the faith in the world in our post players."Mara Freshour scored 18 points and Tanae Davis-Cain added 15 for the Seminoles (18-13), who fell apart in the final 11 minutes and were denied their first victory against Duke in ACC tournament play, falling to 0-9 against ranked teams there."I think that we showed tonight we can compete with anybody," coach Sue Semrau said.Joy Cheek added 11 points for the Blue Devils, who snapped a pesky two-game losing streak in postseason games at the Greensboro Coliseum. They lost 70-65 in last year's ACC semifinals to a North Carolina State team that was inspired by Kay Yow's return, then fell 53-52 in the NCAA Tournament's round of 16 to a Rutgers team that wound up reaching the national title game."We've come together this season, but that's very powerful, those last 11 minutes," Waner said. "We don't want to go home."For much of this one, it looked as though the Blue Devils were doomed to another loss here after trailing most of the first half and falling behind by six midway through the second.Black started the burst with a turnaround basket that pulled Duke to 53-49 with 11:18 left. Waner, who was held scoreless for the first 29 minutes, put the Blue Devils ahead to stay with a fastbreak layup and then hit a 3-pointer from about 25 feet away -- ending the team's 0-for-19 drought from beyond the arc in the past two games -- as part of a perfect second half in which she hit all five of her shots."Abby has great ability to shoot the basketball," coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "It's just exciting to see your teammate thrive in something that she's very good at. Any time a team member steps up -- if it's (Black) swatting a block, or it's Abby hitting a long 3 -- those things are very important, because teams want their teammates to do well, and it's exciting. That's what it's all about."That 3-pointer was the first of three for Duke during a 2-minute span. Waner added another long 3 and Jasmine Thomas -- a 22 percent 3-point shooter -- also connected from beyond the arc, after the Blue Devils hadn't hit a 3 since a victory against Virginia on Feb. 24."I think our players were like, 'Well, they're 0-for-6 from the 3-point line. Maybe we can back off a bit here," Semrau said. "We know she can shoot it from there. We probably didn't expect her to hit it -- I didn't expect her to hit it. And not only did she hit one, then Thomas hit one -- and hadn't hit one the whole game and isn't known for her 3-point shooting, then they turned around and hit another one. ... We played the percentages and lost in that fashion."Freshour's basket with 11:46 remaining had given the Seminoles their largest lead of the half at 53-47.
Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press