Michigan State Falls to Duke in NCAA Tournament

Lindsay Bowen drives the ball against Duke on Sunday night.

Lindsay Bowen drives the ball against Duke on Sunday night.

March 26, 2006

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - The smiles broke out on the Duke bench midway through the second half. And why not? This one was over by then.

Monique Currie scored 17 points to lead top-seeded Duke to a 86-61 win over Michigan State on Sunday night in the Bridgeport Regional semifinal.

Duke (29-3) advanced to a regional final for the sixth time and will play either third-seeded Georgia or second-seeded Connecticut on Tuesday night.

The Blue Devils had an answer for every Michigan State run early on - then ran away with the game in the second half and led by as many as 27 in the closing minutes.

Currie was one of six Blue Devils in double figures. Alison Bales, Duke's career blocks leader dominated inside and gave the Spartans (24-10) few second chances. Seven of her eight rebounds were on the defensive end and helped get the Blue Devils' transition off and running with every Michigan State miss. Duke had 18 points off the fast break and outscored the Spartans 48-22 in the paint.

Mistie Williams had 13 points and a season-high four steals for the Blue Devils, who scored 23 points off turnovers.

The inside combination of Bales and Williams helped neutralize Liz Shimek, MSU's career scoring and rebounding leader. Shimek finished with five points. Victory Lucas-Perry had 17 points to lead the Spartans, last year's NCAA runner-up.

Michigan State hung around for the first 10 minutes of the game and was down by just a basket after a quick 7-2 run that got the Spartans fans into the game. The Blue Devils silenced them quickly with a 3-pointer from Jessica Foley and poured it on with a 13-4 run, capped by another Foley 3-pointer.

The Spartans had one more run in them as the first half wound down. Lucas-Perry's hit a 3 with 35 seconds left to close out a 7-0 run and cut the deficit to five.

But the Blue Devils came right back with a 3-pointer, this time from freshman Abby Waner in the final seconds and took a 45-37 lead into the half.