No. 5 Duke 67, Hampton 51
DURHAM, N.C. (AP)
Hampton didn't consider itself a No. 15 seed, and the Pirates certainly didn't play like one.
They just weren't quite as good as Duke is.
Not many other teams are, either.
Second-seeded Duke came up with a late rally and pulled away for a 67-51 victory over Hampton on Sunday in the first round of the Norfolk Regional.
Keiara Avant had 18 points to lead Hampton (28-6), and her jumper with just over 10 minutes left capped a furious 27-14 rally that pulled the Pirates to 46-40.
They clawed back because they made a determined effort to attack the rim and work the ball inside, instead of settling for lower-percentage shots.
''We said we were taking too many jump shots. It was important that we get to the hole, try to get them in foul trouble,'' Avant said. ''We knew if we could get inside, get them in foul trouble, that we definitely had a shot at coming back.''
But Duke locked down defensively - forcing Hampton to miss 12 of its next 15 shots - and scored on five straight trips to regain some separation and end the Pirates' 19-game winning streak.
Elizabeth Williams hit back-to-back layups before Tricai Liston's scoop shot made it 52-42 and put Duke up by double figures for good.
Neither team believed Hampton - which has wins over three opponents from major conferences - deserved such a poor seed, with Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie saying afterward that the Pirates ''should have been a higher seed'' based on those non-conference victories.
''I said that nothing this weekend would make me think I was a 15 seed,'' Hampton coach David Six said. ''My mind still hasn't changed. We weren't a 15 seed.''
Liston scored 20 points, Williams added 18 and freshman Alexis Jones finished two rebounds shy of a triple-double with 11 points and 10 assists in her NCAA tournament debut.
The Blue Devils (31-2) claimed their 20th straight NCAA tournament-opening victory.
''The last thing you want is to get the impression that things are easy, because they're just not,'' McCallie said. ''This is a winners' tournament. They've won their tournament. They've won their league. They've won big games. ... You just have to know that, as we talk to the team, there's a competitor's mentality that is very different than a fan's mentality.''
Haley Peters finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for Duke, which shot 50 percent in the second half and overcame some early struggles on the boards to outrebound Hampton by eight.
The Blue Devils won their 17th straight tournament game at Cameron Indoor Stadium and 19th in a row overall at home while improving to 7-1 since losing Atlantic Coast Conference co-player of the year Chelsea Gray to a season-ending knee injury.
Olivia Allen finished with 15 points for the Pirates, but Nicole Hampton - who averages 12 points - finished with two on 1-of-15 shooting while playing through what coach David Six said was a foot injury.
Hampton came in leading the nation by allowing an average of 47.2 points, and Duke became just the third opponent to score more than 60 against the Pirates.
''They had great ball pressure and we had to do some things that we hadn't done in the past couple of games,'' Liston said. ''This will really help us grow and prepare us for our next game.''
The Pirates certainly showed how far they've come in the three years since their last visit to Duke - a 72-37 loss in the first round three years ago in which the teams had the same seeds as this year.
For a while, it looked as though that was going to happen to the Pirates again after the Blue Devils used a Williams-fueled 16-2 run to open up a 19-point lead and seemingly break the game open.
The Virginia Beach, Va., native scored eight points during the burst before Liston's layup with just under 2 minutes left made it 32-13. Three of the Pirates' previous five opponents failed to crack 30 in an entire game.
''It's hard when you double down and you make a good play and they reverse it and they get a 3,'' Six said. ''It deflates you a little bit. That being said, I thought that in the second half, we got after them defensively and forced them to turn the ball over - if they can be rattled. I thought that they showed that our defense was affecting them a little bit.''
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at (at)JoedyAP.