The Blue Devils, seeded No. 2 in the Lincoln Regional, blasted an outgunned Winthrop team by 42 points in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
But tonight’s opponent is Big East champion and No. 7 seed DePaul, which also has a 28-6 record and plays a somewhat similar level of opposition all season.
Duke has made the Elite Eight round of the tournament each of the last four seasons, and is trying to give seniors Tricia Liston, Haley Peters and Richa Jackson — along with classmate Chelsea Gray who is sidelined with a broken kneecap — a solid finish to their careers.
Duke’s 19-game NCAA home-court winning streak if on the line, and this opponent is no pushover.
The Blue Devils have a couple of Chicago connections, as Coach Joanne P. McCallie starred at Northwestern while Liston’s father Brian played at Loyola under current DePaul women’s coach as an assistant.
There is not going to be a happy ending for the home folks this time.
DePaul thinks 3-pointer first and rains in 14 of 33, ending Duke’s often spectacular Class of ’14 era 74-65.
Megan Rogowski leads the Blue Demons with 22 points, followed by Megan Podkowa with 18, Brittany Hrinko with 14 and Jasmine Penny 11.
Duke gets five players in double figures, led by junior center Elizabeth Williams with 12 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocked shots. Peters and Liston finish with 11 points each, while Ka’lia Johnson also chips in 11. Oderah Chidom adds 10 off the bench while Jackson gets seven in her collegiate finale.
Duke shoots 46.6 percent to 40 for DePaul, but hits only two of six 3-pointers. Duke wins the rebound battle 43-32, but commits 21 turnovers to DePaul’s 15.
And the post-game mood for Duke is predictably very, very sad.
They said it …
McCallie: “DePaul is a super team and they shot really well from the 3-point line, especially in the second half. They’re very, very good. I’m proud of our team’s effort and fight and resolve. I know there are things we wanted to do better in this game that we didn’t do as well. Seventy-four points were a little too much for us to give up, but I can’t say enough about how proud I am of this team and how proud I am of the seniors in particular. ”
Bruno: “The NCAA Tournament is a great tournament because of the players. We’re here (as winners) because the players I’m blessed to coach did a great job all year and specifically tonight. I was impressed with what our players did the other day against Oklahoma (in Saturday’s 104-100 win) to get us here, and what they did tonight. Duke is a very, very talented basketball team.”
Peters: “They were really on top of our ballhandlers and we didn’t handle it very well. I don’t know that it was the 3-point line per se — we just got a little bit rattled with how aggressive they were and how much pressure they put on us. We didn’t execute very well.”
Liston: “They sped us up, and did a good job of getting the ball out of my hands, and then when we got to half-court doing things with the double and swarming us a little bit. They made us play faster than we should have played. We knew they were a great shooting team, and they shot extremely well tonight.”
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Rogowski’s 3-pointer to put DePaul up 57-48 with 5:20 left.
Duke leads 3-2.
Duke: Lost 1.
DePaul: Won 9.
DePaul vs. Texas A&M or James Madison, Sunday in Lincoln, Neb.