No. 4 seed Duke Blue Devils (23-10) vs.
No. 1 seed Maryland Terrapins (32-2)
The Duke Blue Devils have waited 13 months to renew their heated women’s basketball rivalry with Maryland. Now that the teams are set to square off Saturday afternoon in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament, Duke plans to keep the explosive Terrapins waiting even longer whenever the Blue Devils have the ball.
“If we speed up and play at their tempo, then it could be disastrous,” Duke guard Ka’lia Johnson said Friday at the Spokane Arena.
The Blue Devils are 23-10 and ranked 16th in the most recent Associated Press poll, but turnovers and a lack of depth have posed problems all season.
“We have no depth whatsoever,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
The Blue Devils lack a true point guard, which helps explain why Duke has 85 more turnovers than its opponents. By comparison, fourth-ranked Maryland (32-2) is plus-48 in turnovers, a key factor in the Terrapins’ 26-game winning streak.
Maryland is seeded first and Duke fourth in the Spokane Region. Both teams are strong up front, rebound well and can be stringy on defense, particularly against 3-point attempts.
“We do a good job shutting down the paint,” Duke forward Amber Henson said.
Senior center Elizabeth Williams leads Duke with 14.4 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.1 blocked shots per game. Redshirt freshman guard Rebecca Greenwell is a 3-point gunner who averages 14.3 points. Duke’s other freshman starter, forward Azura Stevens, averages 14.2 points and 8.4 rebounds.
Maryland ranks among the nation’s best with 80.2 points per game and 47.5 percent shooting from the field. Duke outscores opponents 70.1-58.8 and ranks fourth in field-goal shooting percentage defense at 34.3.
Four Terps average 12.4 points or more, led by senior forward Laurin Mincy at 13.9. Maryland went 18-0 in the Big Ten Conference in its first season since leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke has won three in a row against Maryland to take a 41-39 series in the all-time series.
“It’s a little added motivation that we’ll be able to play Duke,” Mincy said, “but they’re just another team in our way to the championship.”
Maryland coach Brenda Fresse, who guided the Terrapins to an overtime win over Duke in the 2006 NCAA title game, said “phenomenal players” on both sides have been involved in “classic matchups” with the Blue Devils in the ACC.
“It was a special thing,” McCallie said. “A really, really special thing.”
The Duke-Maryland survivor faces the Tennessee-Gonzaga winner Monday for a trip to the Final Four in Tampa, Fla.
NCAA women’s basketball tournament, Spokane Region semifinal
4:30 p.m., Spokane (Wash.) Arena (ESPN, WDNC 620)
All-time series: Duke leads 41-39.
Last meeting: Duke 84, Maryland 63, Feb. 17, 2014.
Coaches: Duke – Joanne P. McCallie (541-200 in 23rd season, 225-52 in eighth season at Duke); Maryland – Brenda Frese (412-135 in 17th season, 355-105 in 14th season at Maryland).
Leading scorers: Duke – 6-3 Sr. F Elizabeth Williams (14.4 ppg, 9.0 rpg), 6-1 Fr. G Rebecca Greenwell (14.3, 5.5) 6-5 Fr. F Azura Stevens (14.2, 8.4); Maryland – 6-0 Sr. G Laurin Mincy (13.9, 4.1), 5-9 So. G Lexie Brown (13.7, 3.2), 5-11 So. G Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (13.2, 5.4).
Next round: The winner will play Tennessee-Gonzaga winner at 9 p.m. Monday.