In a game between two high-powered offenses that were off the mark, the Blue Devils reached the Mideast Regional final by beating Louisiana Tech 63-49 Sunday.
"I'm sure it wasn't pretty to watch, but we said ... we thought it would come down to defense, and I think it really did," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said after her team won despite making fewer than 40 percent of its shots.
The Blue Devils (30-3) got 18 points from Monique Currie and 17 from All-American Alana Beard in winning their 13th game in a row - now the longest run in women's college basketball.
Duke will play Minnesota or Boston College on Tuesday night in the round of eight.
The Blue Devils held Louisiana Tech (29-3) to its lowest score of the season (63 was the previous low total) in its first loss since early January. The Lady Techsters made only 30 percent of their attempts from the field.
In one early sequence that was a harbinger of trouble for the losers, four putback tries bounced out - one right after the other. Tech had 17 offensive rebounds, but it managed just 13 second-chance points.
"You don't beat the No. 1 team in the country shooting 30 percent," Louisiana Tech coach Kurt Budke said. "They had a lot to do with that, and we missed some shots that we normally hit."
For much of the game, Duke didn't look like it should be No. 1 in the country or even a No. 1 seed. But Beard, Currie and Vicki Krapohl sparked a 16-6 run that gave the Blue Devils a 48-38 lead that was never threatened.
"This was not our best performance, but I still feel we're confident in our play and our intensity level," said Iciss Tillis, who scored 11 points for Duke.
"It's a lot different than what it has been in the past. Last year we were barely beating teams. This game was a little sloppy, but (they) are a good team. It's not a team you can smoke by 30 points," Tillis said.
Currie had 14 points and seven rebounds in the second half.
Amisha Carter, Tech's leading scorer, had just nine points, eight below her average, on 2-for-13 shooting. She did grab 15 rebounds.
"We matched up well. We just didn't shoot the ball well," Carter said.
Beard shot just 5-for-15, but made a key layup to end the Lady Techsters' last challenge. She also grabbed eight rebounds and had three blocks and seemed more intent on getting her teammates involved.
Trina Frierson led Louisiana Tech with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Erica Smith-Taylor added 11 on 5-for-15 shooting. Smith-Taylor was coming off consecutive career highs of 29 and 30 points in the first two rounds.
Currie scored on a driving layup to break a tie and spark the run that gave Duke a 10-point lead with 9:44 left. Vicki Krapohl made her second 3-pointer in the run, and Currie punctuated the outburst by grabbing a rebound down low and laying it in over the taller Lady Techsters.
The lead was the biggest for either team to that point.
Louisiana Tech briefly challenged, getting a putback from Carter, just her second field goal in 10 attempts, and a driving score from Smith-Taylor. But then Beard engineered a 7-2 burst with a layup, and Tech never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
LOUISIANA TECH (29-3)
Carter 2-13 5-8 9, Frierson 10-19 2-4 22, Smith-Taylor 5-15 0-0 11, Crain 1-7 0-0 3, Obaze 1-6 0-0 2, Barkus 1-6 0-0 2, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Kursh 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-66 7-12 49.
Currie 6-12 6-6 18, Tillis 4-8 2-2 11, Bass 2-4 0-0 4, Harding 1-5 0-0 2, Beard 5-15 7-8 17, Krapohl 3-8 0-0 9, Foley 0-2 0-0 0, Hunter 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 22-57 15-16 63.
Halftime-Duke 26-23. 3-Point goals-La. Tech 2-11 (Crain 1-3, Smith-Taylor 1-4, Barkus 0-1, Carter 0-1, Frierson 0-2), Duke 4-17 (Krapohl 3-8, Tillis 1-3, Foley 0-1, Currie 0-1, Harding 0-1, Beard 0-3). Fouled out-Obaze. Rebounds-La. Tech 43 (Carter 15), Duke 41 (Beard, Bass 8). Assists-La. Tech 10 (Obaze 4), Duke 11 (Harding 3). Total fouls-La. Tech 15, Duke 15. A-NA.