Duke played like a championship contender, especially on defense, in a lopsided win over Georgia.
The Blue Devils will soon learn if they’re a legitimate threat to the title. UConn awaits.
Leaonna Odom scored 16 points and fifth seed Duke’s defense was dominant, holding fourth seed Georgia to two second-quarter points in a 66-40 women’s NCAA Tournament second-round win on Monday night.
Lexie Brown and Erin Mathias each had 14 points for Duke (24-8), which will play UConn in the Albany Regional on Saturday. UConn has won four of the last five titles, 11 overall, and entered this year’s tournament as the top seed.
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said her team will have to cut down on turnovers “and love the fact we have the opportunity to play the best team in the country, the team that has dominated women’s basketball.
“That is a great opportunity, to really compete and get after it. That is pretty special and this team has earned it.”
The win over Georgia should boost the Blue Devils’ confidence for the biggest test against UConn. McCallie wasn’t happy with her team’s 21 turnovers, but she couldn’t deny it was “a great defensive game for our team.”
Georgia (26-7) made only 1 of 19 shots in the second period.
Unable to solve Duke’s zone defense, the Lady Bulldogs set season lows for fewest points in a period and game and lowest field-goal percentage (24.0) in a game.
“They live and die by their zone defense, and today they lived by it,” said Georgia guard Haley Clark.
The Lady Bulldogs missed their first 13 3-pointers before Simone Costa sank a 3 midway through the final period.
“We had a game plan and we really stuck to it,” said Duke guard Rebecca Greenwell, who had 11 points. “We wanted to keep the paint tight. We knew that was their tendency.”
The shooting woes even carried over to the free-throw line, where the Lady Bulldogs made only 7 of 14 shots.
Caliya Robinson led Georgia with 11 points and 12 rebounds. No other Georgia player had more than five points.
After a sluggish start in the first quarter, when it was slowed by nine turnovers, Duke took advantage of Georgia’s cold shooting. After leading 15-12 following the first 10 minutes, the Blue Devils outscored Georgia 20-2 for a commanding 35-14 halftime advantage.
Georgia missed its first 13 shots of the second period. Que Morrison ended the drought, but not the scoring problems, with her layup with 2:34 remaining in the period. Overall, Georgia made only 1 of 19 shots in the period.
Duke: The Blue Devils are 4-0 against Georgia in NCAA Tournament games. Odom, who scored a career-high 25 points in the first-round win over Belmont, had only four points in the first half before scoring 10 points in the third period. … The Blue Devils had 9 turnovers in the first quarter after having eight for the game in their 72-58 first-round win over Belmont.
Georgia: The Lady Bulldogs’ previous low for points in a quarter this season was five in a win at Florida on Jan. 28. … Engram and Haley Clark each played the full 10 minutes of the fast-tempo first quarter in which the Lady Bulldogs played strong defense with four steals and forcing the nine turnovers. Georgia appeared drained in the second period, perhaps contributing to the flurry of missed shots.
Brown had seven steals, giving her a school-record 115 for the season. Alana Beard had the old Duke record of 114.
“It means a lot,” Brown said. “It’s a cool record to break.”
The seven steals tied for the second-most by a Duke player in the tournament.
Duke will play UConn, which beat Quinnipiac in the second round on Monday night, on Saturday in the Albany Regional.