March 7, 2009
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - Jasmine Thomas scored 14 points to help No. 8 Duke beat No. 12 Florida State 75-57 in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament Saturday.
Carrem Gay added 13 points for the third-seeded Blue Devils (26-4), who easily avenged a regular-season loss and reached Sunday's championship game for the second straight year. They will face No. 4 Maryland, the top seed, as they look for their first title since a run of five straight from 2000-04.
Tanae Davis-Cain had 14 points for the second-seeded Seminoles (25-7), who have lost 28 of the past 31 meetings in the series. Florida State had earned a share of the ACC's regular-season title for the first time in school history, but fell behind by double figures midway through the first half and never recovered.
It was Duke's second dominating performance in the tournament in as many days. In Friday's quarterfinals, the Blue Devils jumped to leads of 17-2, 27-6 and ultimately 40-15 in the first half of a 76-53 win against No. 24 Virginia. The first half Saturday didn't look much different, with Duke's defense shutting down the Seminoles early while its offense operated with easy efficiency.
Four players scored in double figures, while senior Abby Waner continued her recent outside shooting surge. She overcame a 1-for-15 shooting performance in her final home game to make the go-ahead 3 with 45.8 seconds left in overtime to beat North Carolina in last week's regular-season finale.
She followed that by hitting 4 of 6 shots from behind the arc against the Cavaliers, then went 3-for-4 on 3s against the Seminoles to finish with nine points.
Duke shot 52 percent for the game, including 7-for-12 from 3-point range, and scored 14 second-chance points. It defense frustrated the Seminoles into 34 percent shooting and 15 turnovers, which Duke converted into 20 points.
Duke used an 18-2 run midway through the first half to blow the game open. Chante Black had seven during the spurt, which ended with Bridgette Mitchell's stickback for a 30-11 lead with 7:05 to play. Gay scored in the final minute of the half to make it 40-18 at the break.
That margin was more than enough. Though Florida State started the half with a 16-3 run that cut the deficit to nine, Duke scored on three straight possessions - including a 3 from Waner - to push the lead back to 50-34 on Gay's stickback with 14 minutes left.
The Seminoles got no closer than 13 points, with even their best offensive flurries amounting to little more than trading baskets as their defense was unable to get critical stops.