SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Brenda Frese sat down at the dais and immediately gave a little jab at Maryland’s former foes from its days in the ACC.
”I don’t know what it is, but I think we just love being able to beat Duke in the NCAA Tournament,” Maryland’s head coach said.
Duke may have controlled its rivalry with the Terrapins before Maryland departed for the Big Ten. But the Terps are now 2-0 against Duke in the NCAA Tournament and about to play for another trip to the Final Four.
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough scored 18 of her 24 points in the second half, Laurin Mincy scored all 15 of her points in the first half, and top-seeded Maryland advanced to the Spokane Regional final with a 65-55 victory over the No. 4 seed on Saturday.
Walker-Kimbrough took over the scoring load carried by Mincy in the first half as the Terrapins (33-2) reached the Elite Eight for the sixth time under Frese. The Terrapins had lost eight of their previous 10 games against Duke.
”Very relieving,” Mincy said. ”Like you said, we haven’t been able to beat Duke since our sophomore year, so it’s just very fitting that we come in here and beat them in the Sweet 16.”
In their inaugural meeting since Maryland’s departure for the Big Ten, the Terrapins knocked off the Blue Devils for the first time since Feb. 19, 2012. Even the mascots got in on the fun of the former conference foes getting together with Duke’s Blue Devil wearing a taped message on his forehead reading ”The ACC Don’t Miss Ya,” and Maryland’s Testudo responding with ”April 4th 2006,” the date of the Terrapins’ national title victory over Duke.
Maryland was the one left celebrating at the end thanks to one of the best performances of Walker-Kimbrough’s career.
”That’s just the flow of the game,” Walker-Kimbrough said. ”They were trying to make adjustments, but we just kept playing our game.”
Brionna Jones added 10 points and 10 rebounds as the Terrapins held a decided 33-24 rebounding edge despite Duke’s size advantage inside. Maryland’s goal was to allow fewer than 10 offensive rebounds to the Blue Devils. They gave up six and Duke had only six second-chance points.
Elizabeth Williams led Duke (23-11) with 18 points and nine rebounds.
Ka’lia Johnson scored 15 points for the short-handed Blue Devils, but Azura Stevens and Rebecca Greenwell were both hounded by Maryland’s defense. Stevens finished with 11 points on 5 of 15 shooting, while Greenwell could never get clear looks from the perimeter and was held to five points, after averaging 14.3 on the season.
Duke coach Joanne McCallie said she was unhappy with the Blue Devils’ lack of energy and aggressiveness in the first half.
The Terrapins offense was mostly Mincy in the first half, finding holes in Duke’s zone defense and hitting 3s from the perimeter. She scored 12 of Maryland’s first 24 points, all on 3-pointers, but she deferred to Walker-Kimbrough in the final 20 minutes as the sophomore got hot. Walker-Kimbrough made 8 of 11 shots in the second half and just missed topping her previous career high of 25 earlier this season against South Florida. Walker-Kimbrough had scored more than 20 points just three times since the start of Big Ten play in late December.
Duke trailed by 10 in the opening moments of the second half before going on a 16-7 scoring spurt, hitting six straight shots. Greenwell curled off a screen to hit her first 3-pointer and Williams rebound basket off her own miss cut Maryland’s lead to 42-41 with 12:55 remaining.
That’s would be the closest Duke would get. Walker-Kimbrough led a run that pushed the lead back to nine with 10 minutes left.
”I was a little surprised. I was expecting them to come more aggressive,” Jones said. ”I think we hit them with a punch early and they didn’t respond as well.”
Duke: The Blue Devils were trying to reach the Elite Eight for the fifth time under McCallie. … Greenwell had scored in double figures in 13 of her previous 15 games.
Maryland: Mincy had a career-high six 3-pointers in the round-of-32 victory over Princeton. Saturday’s victory was just the third time this season she made four or more 3s in a game.
Duke: Season over.
Maryland: Will play Tennessee in the regional final Monday.