The Duke Blue Devils’ only loss of the season came in the semifinals of the ACC tournament. Their play may no longer be perfect, but Duke appears to be ready to play without any more losses this season. The aura of invincibility, however, is unquestionably fading away.
Duke is heading to the Sweet 16 for the tenth consecutive year. They stamped their ticket into the next round by defeating a very game Temple team 62-52. The No. 1 Blue Devils showed glimpses during Tuesday’s contest of the undefeated team that ruled women’s Division I college basketball for the entire regular season. Duke also showed signs of being a very beatable team one bad run away from being knocked off.
Temple, a nine seed, gave Duke all they could handle throughout the game. Every time the Blue Devils seemed ready to pull away from the Owls, Temple would respond, keeping the game much closer than many would have expected. In the waning moments of the first half Duke extended their lead to double-digits and took an eleven point lead into halftime. Temple came out in the second half ready for a comeback, eventually cutting the lead to five.
That’s the closest that Temple would get. The Owls would go almost six minutes without a point and seven without a field goal as Duke eventually pulled away. By the time Temple could make a bucket Duke had extended the lead to fourteen and the Owls just ran out of time.
Duke was led by the outstanding play of guard Lindsey Harding. Harding, the MVP of the game, scored 18 points and also had four assists for the Blue Devils. Fellow guard Wanisha Smith had 15 points and seven rebounds for Duke. Carrem Gay had a double-double, scoring thirteen points and pulling down eleven rebounds.
Fatima Maddox scored 18 points and went six for six from the charity stripe for Temple. Forward Kamesha Hairston had a double-double, adding ten rebounds to her 16 points. Lady Comfort, possibly the most recognized player on the Owls, scored twelve points and had nine rebounds. Her season, though, now comes to an end.
During the entire season Duke has been the popular choice of most experts to win the national championship. The Blue Devils won their first 30 games before the upset loss at the hands of North Carolina State a few weeks back. While the Blue Devils emerged with a double-digit victory on Tuesday the Blue Devils hardly looked unbeatable, at times looking sluggish and uninspired. Their play was more than enough to advance to the Sweet 16, something that has become very familiar for Duke.
Duke moves on to play the winner of Michigan State versus Rutgers. Temple ends their season with an overall record of 25-8.