Blue Devils triumph over Terps, set up rematch with Tar Heels

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) -- Wanisha Smith had another big game at Maryland's expense, and it was more than enough to finally give Duke the kind of semifinal surprise it wanted.

Smith matched a career-high with 22 points Saturday in yet another double-figure game against the Terrapins (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP), and it helped the Blue Devils (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today, No. 12 AP) upset them 74-63 in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

Joy Cheek added 16 points for the third-seeded Blue Devils (23-8), who turned 19 turnovers into 32 points to reach their first ACC title game since 2005.

"To see the team play so hard and to want to be together, and really fight together to me is the part about this game I'll take -- the fighting spirit and that poise," coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

A year after the then-No. 1 Blue Devils were upset in an ACC semifinal by North Carolina State, these third-seeded Blue Devils pulled a shocker of their own by stunning the Terrapins. Their reward: a rematch Sunday with No. 2 and top-seeded North Carolina -- which beat them by 31 in last week's regular-season finale -- in the schools' sixth meeting in the league title game.

"This is what it's all about -- playing against the best, right through March, April, that's the whole deal," McCallie said. "It's appropriate, given the fact that we've taken some hits in playing them."

Marissa Coleman scored 20 points and ACC player of the year Crystal Langhorne added 16 for the Terrapins (30-3), who saw their eight-game winning streak ended and were denied their first league title game since 2006.

Duke, which was swept by Maryland in the regular season for the first time since 1993, delivered the biggest surprise of the tournament. The Blue Devils had lost five straight against top-five teams in McCallie's first season. Maryland and North Carolina -- which combined for one ACC loss all season -- were widely expected to cruise to the title game.

"This one obviously hurts -- it hurts for our seniors and for this team," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "I felt like we were in a great place coming into this tournament, but from our end, we can get better, and that's the lesson to learn here."

Especially on defense against Smith, a senior who reached double figures for the eighth time in 12 career games against the Terrapins.

"The familiarity with the team, with me having played them the last four years, knowing their personnel and knowing their defense -- it kind of works to my advantage," Smith said.

She helped the Blue Devils rally from an early 10-point deficit. They never trailed in the second half. Krystal Thomas capped a 12-2 run midway through the half and gave the Blue Devils their first double-figure lead with a layup to make it 52-41 with 12 minutes left.

Maryland responded with an 11-4 burst over the next 6 1/2 minutes, with Langhorne's layup through traffic with 5:35 remaining making it 56-52. But the Terrapins couldn't get any closer than that the rest of the way.

Laura Harper had 12 points and 12 rebounds and Kristi Toliver 10 points, but she was 4-of-12 from the field and 2-for-10 from 3-point range for Maryland, which held a 40-21 rebounding advantage yet finished just 3-of-20 from beyond the arc.

"(Duke) did a great job in terms of taking away our inside game," Frese said. "A lot of times, we did get tentative in terms of turning the corner, trying to get to the rim, tried to pull up a little earlier from the perimeter. Obviously, a lot of those shots came down the stretch, when we were trying to get back into the game."

Smith, who equaled her 22-point effort against Jacksonville State in December 2004, put Duke ahead to stay when her 3-pointer from the left corner capped a 17-4 run and made it 23-20 with 8 minutes before the break.

"Our guards did a pretty good job of finding me in the corner for those 3-point shots," Smith said. "Everybody on our team can shoot. Our posts, like you saw Joy stepping out and shooting 3s. We just have a lot of confidence in each one of our players, and good things happened."