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Archive for Sunday, March 30, 2003

Duke fends off feisty Georgia, 66-63

March 30, 2003

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— Duke showed it can rely on more than just All-American Alana Beard.

Iciss Tillis scored 21 points and freshman Mistie Bass had 10 straight points to spark a second-half run, helping top-seeded Duke beat Georgia 66-63 in the semifinals of the Midwest Regional Saturday night.

Duke (34-1) will meet the New Mexico-Texas Tech winner in the regional final Monday for a chance to go to the Final Four.

The Blue Devils overcame some shakiness on offense and a rare off night by Beard, who finished with 12 points, to win their 14th straight game.

"If you want to call it a slow start, that's what you can call it," Beard said of her game. "It happens."

Marquita Driskell scored 16 points to lead No. 5 seed Georgia (21-10), which suited up just eight players. Christi Thomas added 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Lady Bulldogs.

Georgia's Ebony Felder made it a three-point game with a layup with 42 seconds remaining and Duke couldn't get off a shot before the 30-second clock expired with 10 seconds left. But Duke guard Sheana Mosch stole the ball from Alexis Kendrick with 4 seconds left and the Blue Devils ran out the clock.

Duke trailed 44-41 with 10:56 left when Bass, scoreless in the first half, hit a short jumper, back-to-back layups, a pair of free throws and another layup to put Duke in front for good at 51-46.

"She did what she needed to do to have her team win tonight," Thomas said of Bass.

But the Lady Bulldogs hung in there. A three-pointer by Mary Beth Lycett got Georgia within 64-61 with 1:22 left. Beard then hit a short jumper in the lane with 53.5 seconds left.

Aside from her late field goal, Beard wasn't much of a factor. She passed up open shots and was content to let her teammates do most of the scoring. She said it was just the way the game developed.

"Coach didn't want us to force shots and I just wasn't the one with the ball when the shot clock ran down," Beard said.

Tillis was 9-for-16, but most of the other Blue Devils struggled. They hit 26 of 63 shots and have not scored more than 66 points in three tournament wins.

"Obviously we didn't get off to a good start ... but we played hard and we played through the tough times," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "We weren't very patient and we didn't penetrate the gaps."

Beard, who had scored 46 points in Duke's first two wins, didn't attempt a field goal for the first 111¼2 minutes. Her three-pointer with 2:33 left in the half gave the Blue Devils their first lead of the game at 26-25 and finished off a 10-0 run.

Georgia led 32-28 at halftime, but couldn't hit the shots it needed in the final minutes.

"We broke down offensively inside down the stretch," Lady Bulldogs coach Andy Landers said.

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