Alana Beard scored a game-high 27 points as top-seeded Duke beat Utah, 65-54, in a Midwest Region second-round game last night in Durham, N.C.
Beard shot 10 for 12 against the nation's top scoring defense, leading the Blue Devils (33-1) to the round of 16 for the sixth straight season. Duke will face No. 5 seed Georgia on Saturday.
Iciss Tillis added 12 points and freshman Jessica Foley scored 11 for Duke.
"We learned from this game we can rely upon our defense, especially when our offense wasn't clicking the way we wanted," Beard said. "We relied on our defense to get us through."
Kim Smith scored 20 points and went 4 for 9 from behind the three-point arc to lead No. 8 seed Utah (24-7), which came into the game allowing just 50 points per game. Shona Thorburn added 12 points.
Beard scored 10 points in the last 13 minutes 28 seconds as the Blue Devils slowly pulled away. With Duke leading by four, Beard scored six points in an 11-2 run for a 51-38 Blue Devils lead.
Duke, which came in allowing just 54 points per game, held the Utes without a field goal for 71/2 minutes midway through the second half. By the time Utah's Kelsy Stireman ended the drought with a jumper from the right baseline, Duke had a 63-44 lead with 4:38 left.
Utah held Duke to 7-for-22 shooting in the first half, and took a 29-19 lead on a layup by Sarah Wobbe. But Foley hit two straight baskets and Beard followed with two three-pointers to ignite a 12-0 run that put the Blue Devils ahead to stay.
* TEXAS TECH 72, UC SANTA BARBARA 68: Jia Perkins scored 23 points as the Lady Raiders advanced in the second round of the Midwest Region in Lubbock, Tex.
The second-seeded Lady Raiders (28-5) advanced to the round of 16 and will play sixth-seeded New Mexico in Albuquerque on Saturday night. Texas Tech has made it to a regional semifinal five straight years.
Lindsay Taylor had 26 points, 10 above her season average, to lead the seventh-seeded Gauchos (27-5).
Tech led most of the way, but Santa Barbara overcame a 15-point first-half deficit to make it close. The Gauchos tied the game at 50 on a three-pointer by Jess Hansen with 12:32 remaining, and after that there were eight ties and three lead changes.
Plenette Pierson scored five of her 15 points in the final 27 seconds to help Tech put it away.
"We made plays when we had to," Texas Tech Coach Marsha Sharp said. "We talked about how important that is this time of year, the plays you have to make. I thought we focused better trip after trip, although there were a couple of points where we were a little bit wild."
Taylor, the Big West Conference player of the year, picked up three fouls in the first 10 minutes and sat on the bench for the final 7:33 of the half. She came back with 11 points over about the first seven minutes of the second half to help the Gauchos rally.