No. 5 Duke 68, Oklahoma St. 59

Duke is usually the one running teams out of Cameron Indoor

Stadium. So when the Blue Devils found themselves on the receiving

end of a beatdown, they figured they had simply set themselves up

for quite a comeback.

They stormed back from 15 points down in the second half to beat

Oklahoma State 68-59 on Tuesday night in the second round of the

Norfolk Regional.

”Coach came in and just said we were just getting ready for a

great comeback,” forward Haley Peters said. ”We knew we played a

bad first half but we couldn’t focus on that. It was more about how

we were going to change in the second half … and we were going to

have a great comeback.”

Elizabeth Williams had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Peters added

15 points and 13 rebounds and Tricia Liston scored eight of her 13

in the final 6-plus minutes for the second-seeded Blue Devils

(32-2), who will face sixth-seeded Nebraska in the regional

semifinals on Sunday in Norfolk, Va. – near Williams’ hometown of

Virginia Beach.

”I think it’s pretty cool,” Williams said.

Chloe Wells also finished with 13 points for Duke, which dug out

of that deep hole by outscoring the seventh-seeded Cowgirls 47-23

during the final 19 1/2 minutes to reach the tournament’s second

weekend for the 15th time in 16 years.

Duke improved to 20-1 in NCAA tournament games at Cameron and

won its 20th straight home game.

”That was a blue-collar comeback,” coach Joanne P. McCallie

said. ”That was guttural. That was gutsy.”

Liz Donohoe had 14 points to lead Oklahoma State (22-11), which

led for nearly all of the first 35 minutes but had 21 turnovers and

made just 2 of 14 shots over the final 9 1/2 minutes.

”We almost had to play a perfect game to win this game, and I

thought we played pretty close to perfect in the first half and

maybe the first 4-5 minutes in the second half,” Oklahoma State

coach Jim Littell said. ”But it was a tough draw coming in here,

because we know how good they are.”

Brittney Martin added 13 points and her free throw with 7:50

left put the Cowgirls up 51-45.

That’s when Duke finally started playing like a No. 2 seed going

for its 18th straight NCAA tournament victory at home.

Alexis Jones hit a free throw before Liston finally warmed up

after a 2-for-12 start, scoring six straight points to give Duke

its first lead since the opening minutes.

She stuck back her missed jumper, drew contact, hit the

following free throw and then buried a 3-pointer with 5 1/2 minutes

left to put the Blue Devils up 52-51.

That got Duke’s decisive 17-2 run rolling, scoring on five

straight possessions with Jones’ free throws maxing out the lead at

62-53 with 53.8 seconds left.

By that point, their 15-point hole – their largest deficit at

Cameron all season – was a distant memory.

They fell that far behind in the first minute of the second half

and were in danger of being run completely off their home court

before they got back in it with 12 straight points.

”You can want things too much sometimes and press a little bit

and forget to play together,” McCallie said. ”Second half, very

different story. Everybody on the same page, everybody pulling in

the same direction and I thought it was a fascinating thing to be a

part of.”

That came after a first half in which the Cowgirls came into

Cameron and made themselves right at home.

They led for all but about 2 minutes of the half while shooting

nearly 47 percent in the opening 20 minutes.

Toni Young finished with 12 points and Tiffany Bias added 11 for

Oklahoma State, which held Duke to 18 percent shooting from 3-point

range in the first half.

”We’re a fast and quick team, and we used what we got to build

a lead against them,” Young said.

Bias banked in a 3 with about 10 seconds left making it 34-21 at

the break, and Martin hit a short jumper about 15 seconds into the

second half to put the Blue Devils down by 15. But the Cowgirls

couldn’t hold on, and their third trip to the round of 16 slipped

away down the stretch.

”We came to the toughest place as far as a No. 2 seed goes, and

we went toe to toe for about 35 minutes with them,” Littell said,

”and I’m proud of our group for that.”

Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at (at)JoedyAP.