DURHAM, N.C. – The ninth-ranked Duke women’s basketball team received its 20th straight NCAA Tournament selection on Monday. The Blue Devils (27-6) were seeded No. 2 in the Lincoln Region and will play 15th-seeded Winthrop (24-8) in the first round Saturday, March 22, 2014 in Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 and will tip at 11:00 a.m. (EST).
The Blue Devils have earned one of the top eight seeds in 13 out of the last 14 years in the NCAA Tournament and are coming off four straight Elite Eight appearances. Duke has been a No. 2 seed in each of the last five years.
Winthrop received an automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament, after claiming its first Big South Conference title with an 87-74 victory over High Point on Sunday, March 9. The Eagles are led by Kevin Cook, who is in his second season as head coach at Winthrop. On the season, Winthrop has been guided by three-time Big South Player of the Year Deque McClanahan (17.6 points, 6.5 rebounds), Erica Williams (15.6 points, 7.9 rebounds), Schaquilla Nunn (11.2 points, 9.9 rebounds) and Samiya Wright (10.4 points, 40 treys).
Duke and Winthrop have met one time in school history with the Blue Devils posting an 80-45 win on Dec. 9, 1986 in Durham, N.C.
The winner of the Duke/Winthrop game will advance to face the winner of the No. 7 seed DePaul vs. No. 10 seed Oklahoma game, which will tip at approximately 1:30 p.m., Saturday. The second round contest will be played Monday, March 24 at 6:30 p.m., in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
DePaul will head to Durham, N.C., for the second straight year in the NCAA Tournament as the Blue Demons dropped a 73-56 decision a year ago to Oklahoma State. On the season, DePaul has posted a 27-6 overall record and won the Big East Tournament title with a 65-57 victory over St. John’s. Leading the Blue Demons has been Jasmine Penny (15.8 points, 5.2 rebounds), Megan Rogowski (15.3 points, 101 treys), Brittany Hrynko (12.5 points, 187 assists) and Chanise Jenkins (10.8 points, 45 treys). Head coach Doug Bruno is in his 28th year with DePaul.
Oklahoma received an at-large invitation to the tournament, after notching an 18-14 overall record under head coach Sherri Coale. All-America candidate Aaryn Ellenberg (18.8 points, 85 treys), Sharane Campbell (12.3 points, 5.3 rebounds), Morgan Hook (11.3 points, 41 treys) and Nicole Griffin (10.2 points, 6.0 rebounds) have led the Sooners on the year. Oklahoma will be making its 17th overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Blue Devils received an at-large invitation to the 2014 NCAA Tournament, after totaling a 27-6 overall and 12-4 league mark record on the season. Duke is currently ranked No. 9 nationally in the Associated Press ledger, after advancing to the ACC Championship game. In the latest NCAA RPI, the Blue Devils are No. 4 nationally.
Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie, who was the 2013, 2012 and 2010 ACC Coach of the Year, has guided the Blue Devils to another standout season in 2013-14 even with the loss of All-America point guard Chelsea Gray and All-ACC guard Alexis Jones to a season-ending knee injuries.
On the year, the Blue Devils have featured a very balanced squad that includes four double-figure scorers -- Tricia Liston (17.3), Elizabeth Williams (14.0), Alexis Jones (13.1), Haley Peters (11.2) and Chelsea Gray (10.8). Liston and Williams were named to the All-ACC First Team, while Jones received Second Team All-ACC accolades. Williams earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year for the third consecutive year. Liston has been included on the John R. Wooden Award final ballot for National Player of the Year.
Entering the 2014 NCAAs, the Blue Devils own an all-time record of 52-20 in NCAA Tournament play and are 53-21 in all postseason action. The Blue Devils feature an 18-game winning streak in Cameron Indoor Stadium in NCAA Tournament action. Duke has advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 15 out of the last 16 years and reached the NCAA Final Four in 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2006. As a conference, the ACC received eight bids in 2014 -- Duke, Notre Dame, Maryland, North Carolina, N.C. State, Syracuse, Florida State and Georgia Tech.
Tickets can be purchased by heading to www.GoDuke.com/tickets or calling the Duke Ticket Office at (919) 681-2583.
Senior Tricia Liston: “Playing at home is great for us, especially with the home crowd. Also for us seniors, being able to play on Cameron again, I think that’s something that’s going to be really special for us and it will give us good momentum for the first game and going into the next game.”
On ACC Tournament run: “We learned a lot and I think we proved some people wrong. I think a lot of people doubted what this team could do. I think we proved to ourselves that we can play with the best teams.”
Senior Haley Peters: “It’s exciting to play at home and have one last ‘hurrah’ in Cameron. Already having senior night, this is just icing on the cake for us to be able to play and start the last leg of our season at home. It’s going to be exciting.”
“Being able to play all three games in the ACC Tournament, we really learned a lot about who we are as a team, what our identity is and that we can really play with whoever we want to.”
Head coach Joanne P. McCallie “I know [Winthrop has] got a tremendously balanced scoring attack with four double-figure scorers, which is always interesting to see that balance. From there, I’ll have to look at film to see how we’ll attack things tomorrow at practice. Of course we’re trying to do things to get ourselves better and then implement the scout report as well. We’re really excited to have an opponent. We’re really excited to get started.”
On the OU-DePaul game “That seems like a great matchup. It seems like some great women’s basketball. I really hope fans can come out and support us and support women’s basketball here and in Chapel Hill. That’s pretty great that the Triangle is hosting in two places.”
On the senior class “This group is very good at staying in the moment. I don’t think anyone’s talking about ‘finish’ or anything like that. I think we’re talking about playing Winthrop, getting our mindset for that and just being really, really aggressive. I think everyone’s very good about staying in the present.”
“They’ve been incredible from day one, just in recruiting them and them coming to Duke, their dreams at Duke, things they’ve wanted to accomplish, all the elite eight performances and ACC championships, all these things. There’s just so much that they’ve done. What’s interesting is I think this year might be the biggest year for learning what sports are all about … It might be the most storied year, in terms of a team coming together, that I’ve ever experienced.”