ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Napheesa Collier had 16 points and 11 rebounds to help top-seed UConn beat Duke 72-59 on Saturday and advance to the Elite Eight for the 13th consecutive season.
UConn (35-0) will face defending national champion South Carolina on Monday night in trying to reach an 11th straight Final Four.
The Huskies scored the first seven points of the game beginning with a banked-in 3-pointer from Kia Nurse and they were off and running.
Duke had only given up an average of 49 points in its first two games of the tournament. UConn had that by the end of the third quarter, much to the delight of the partisan crowd of 10,658 that took in the Albany Regional.
Fifth-seed Duke (24-9) was only down seven early in the second quarter when the Blue Devils went cold from the field, going scoreless over the next 5½ minutes. UConn extended its advantage to 30-16.
The Blue Devils cut their deficit to 12, but UConn scored the final eight points of the half, including a pullup by Gabby Williams just before the halftime buzzer to give UConn a 40-20 lead.
Duke closed its gap to 44-31 midway through the third quarter, but didn’t score for the rest of the period and UConn rebuilt the 20-point advantage.
The game also featured Huskies center Azura Stevens going against her former team. She transferred to UConn after her sophomore season. Stevens had eight points and 12 rebounds.
Katie Lou Samuelson and Williams each had 15 points for the Huskies.
Duke was led by sophomore Leaonna Odom, who has been dominant in the tournament, averaging 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the field in wins over Belmont and Georgia. She had 22 on Saturday.
The loss ended the stellar careers of Duke guards Rebecca Greenwell and Lexie Brown. The pair came into the game averaging a combined 33.9 points this season which was third best among Power Five schools. They only had 16 combined against UConn.
DYNAMIC DUO: Nurse and Williams moved into a tie for fourth on the all-time NCAA win list, improving to 147-2 in their stellar careers at UConn. If the Huskies win the national championship the pair will finish at 150-2, the third-most wins all-time in NCAA history. It would also be the second-best winning percentage for a senior class, trailing only UConn’s Saniya Chong, who graduated last year with a 152-2 mark.
TIP-INS: UConn had won the past eight meetings in the series before the two teams stopped playing after the 2014 season. … Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie is 1-11 all-time against UConn with the lone win coming in 2004 when she was the head coach of Michigan State. … Brown added to her single-season school record for steals with six against UConn. She finished the season with 121, seven more than former record holder Alana Beard. … UConn was 8 for 16 from the free-throw line.
UConn beat South Carolina by 25 points on Feb. 1. The second-seeded Gamecocks advanced to the regional final with a 79-63 win over 11th-seeded Buffalo.
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