Miami 69, No. 5 Duke 65

For Stefanie Yderstrom and Pepper Wilson, it was a grand

finale.

For Katie Meier, it was an unforgettable first.

Yderstrom and Wilson each scored 16 points in their final home

regular-season games, Krystal Saunders added 15 and Miami gave its

NCAA tournament resume a serious boost by upsetting No. 5 Duke

69-65 on Thursday night, the first time in 11 meetings between the

programs where the Hurricanes emerged victorious.

”You just pray for moments like this,” said Meier, the Miami

coach who had never beaten Duke – where she once was a standout

player. ”You pray for rewards like this for kids who have given

you so much. They have totally transformed this program. They’ve

represented Miami in a way that I’ve dreamt of. All of them took a

risk coming here. All of us had not beaten Duke. That’s the first

time we had. And now’s a really good time to do it.”

Morgan Stroman added 11 for the Hurricanes (19-9, 10-7 Atlantic

Coast Conference), who beat then-No. 6 Penn State by the same 69-65

score at home in November and knew they needed another big win to

enhance their NCAA hopes.

They got it, thanks largely to a pair of seniors who came up big

in the season’s biggest game to date. Wilson and Yderstrom combined

to score 22 of their 32 points in the second half, and teamed up

for the basket that sealed the win with 20 seconds left. Yderstrom

found Wilson with a perfect bounce pass off a pick-and-roll, and an

easy layup had the Hurricanes poised for celebration.

Moments later, it was over. Meier thrust her arms in the air,

and her team gathered at center court for postgame hugs.

”Miami played a great game,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie

said. ”They played physical. They outplayed us. They outphysicaled

us. They outhustled us. They probably played their best game of the

season, I would suspect.”

Elizabeth Williams and Haley Peters each scored 17 for the Blue

Devils (26-2, 16-1), who already have locked up the No. 1 seed in

the ACC tournament. Alexis Jones added 13 for Duke, including a

3-pointer with 49 seconds left to get her team within 67-65.

But the Blue Devils wouldn’t score again.

”Right now, I’m just in awe,” Wilson said. ”It’s like one of

the greatest feelings I’ve ever had.”

Which could not be more of a contrast from what happened the

last time Miami and Duke got together.

Miami was tied with Duke 29-all at halftime of the teams’ first

meeting this season back on Jan. 31 – a game that turned into an

82-43 romp for the Blue Devils.

No collapse this time, though. Not even close, despite shooting

just 33 percent in the second half and 34 percent for the game,

compared to 47 percent by Duke. The difference was points off

turnovers and second-chance opportunities, two areas where Miami

combined to outscore Duke 31-18.

It was the third game for Duke since the Blue Devils lost

starting point guard Chelsea Gray to a season-ending knee

injury.

”We’ve been in a new season since Chelsea’s injury and trying

to grow and learn how we’re playing together, especially on the

defensive side of the ball,” Peters said. ”Our focus was not

where it needed to be. I thought we played very young. We weren’t

where we should have been.”

Yderstrom and Wilson, however, were everywhere, especially in

the final minutes.

The second half was theirs.

Yderstrom set up Saunders for a 3-pointer with 13:18 left to put

Miami up 49-43. And after Duke got within four later in the half,

Yderstrom started calling her own number. A pair of free throws and

a quick 3-pointer gave Yderstrom – whose mother traveled from their

native Sweden for senior night – five points in 25 seconds, pushing

Miami’s edge to 58-49 and sending many of those on the Hurricanes’

bench leaping for joy.

Barely three minutes later, the momentum was all Duke’s.

Tricia Liston, who didn’t score in the first half, had four

quick points and Jones followed with three more, getting the Blue

Devils within 58-56 with 6:01 left. But after Saunders blocked

Peters’ shot in the lane – despite a 7-inch height differential –

Yderstrom scored from close range, snapping a Miami drought that

lasted more than four minutes and making it a two-possession game

once again.

And the lead stuck the rest of the way.

Wilson scored Miami’s next six points to extend the lead to

66-60, and the Hurricanes got some help on the last of those

buckets. Jones dribbled the ball off McGuire’s foot for a turnover,

and Wilson made the Blue Devils pay by banking one in with 1:51

remaining.

”We knew we had nothing to lose,” Stroman said. ”Might as

well go out with a bang.”