Duke never trails, cruises into second round behind defense, rebounding

COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Say this much about the Duke women's basketball team: They sure know how to win in the NCAA tournament, and the formula for success isn't particularly complicated.

"You've got play great defense, and you've got to rebound. That's the key," coach Joanne McCallie said. "Obviously you've got to score a lot of points, but the bottom line is, can you stop people?"

The answer Sunday night was an emphatic "yes."

The third-seeded Blue Devils held Murray State to 34.5 shooting, snared 20 offensive rebounds and cruised to a 78-57 victory to advance to the second round of Oklahoma City Regional.

Duke has been to the NCAA tournament 15 times, including 14 straight, without losing its opening game. The Blue Devils (24-9) can earn a berth in the round of 16 for the 11th consecutive season by defeating Arizona State on Tuesday.

Well, at least one Duke basketball team knows how to win as a heavy favorite.

The men's team, in contrast, entered this year's tournament as a No. 2 seed and barely squeezed past No. 15 Belmont before being eliminated by West Virginia on Saturday.

This is the second time the Duke women's team has been seeded third. The last time it happened, the Blue Devils went to the 1999 title game before falling to Purdue.

"I don't think there's any pressure on us at all," said Wanisha Smith, who scored 16 points. "If anything, we put pressure on ourselves to do the things we know we can do."

Chante Black scored 14, and Jasmine Thomas had 13 points and nine of Duke's 48 rebounds. The Racers grabbed only 29.

"They just beat the heck out of us on the boards," Murray State coach Jody Adams said. "We just have to give them credit for that."

The Racers made a run in the second half, cutting an early 15-point deficit to 37-32, but the Blue Devils answered with a 17-3 spree to make it 54-34 with 12:21 to go.

That ended any hope 14th-seeded Murray State (24-8) had of pulling off a huge upset in its first trip to the NCAA tournament.

"We shouldn't hang our heads," Adams said. "We made some good runs, but it was not good enough to hold off a great team."

Ashley Hayes scored 26 for the Racers, champions of the Ohio Valley Conference.

"That No. 23," McCallie said, "she got the best of us because we didn't do anything to stop her."

If Duke was feeling any lingering effects of its 81-52 loss to North Carolina in the ACC title game, it certainly wasn't evident in the opening minutes of this one.

The Blue Devils threatened to run away early, scoring the game's first six points while Murray State missed its first six shots. It was 9-8 before Smith scored five points in a 15-1 run that lasted more than seven minutes.

The Racers were 3-for-21 from the field until Gerraca Matthews connected a drive through the lane with 7:21 left in the half.

Although Murray State got close early in the second half, Duke was never seriously threatened.

"We weren't concerned," Black said. "We were excited to be out there, and once we settled down we were able to execute plays and come out with a great victory."