Duke women earn Sweet 16 berth by beating Miss State 64-56
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Elizabeth Williams' Duke teammates weren't going to let her final game at Cameron Indoor Stadium turn into her last college game, period.
Freshman Azura Stevens had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and the Blue Devils beat Mississippi State 64-56 on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Williams scored 12 points in her Cameron finale and Rebecca Greenwell added 17 with three 3-pointers for fourth-seeded Duke (23-10).
The Blue Devils shot 52 percent, used a timely 26-5 run to build a 15-point lead and held on to earn a spot in the round of 16. They will play the Princeton-Maryland winner on Saturday in the Spokane Region semifinals.
''Survive and advance, I guess,'' Williams said.
Victoria Vivians scored 15 points and Kendra Grant added 12 for the fifth-seeded Bulldogs (27-7). They clawed within 58-52 on Morgan William's free throw with 1:21 left.
But Dominique Dillingham was called for a blocking foul with 1:02 left, and coach Vic Schaefer received a technical foul for arguing that Greenwell should have been whistled for using her forearm, and had to be restrained by two of his assistants.
''I'm going to fight for her every day and twice on Sunday,'' Schaefer said.
After Greenwell hit 3 of 4 free throws, Mississippi State never got closer than eight in the final minute.
Ka'lia Johnson added 10 points for Duke, which had reached the tournament's second weekend in four straight years before DePaul came here last year and knocked the Blue Devils out in the second round.
It looked like it might happen again when Martha Alwal put Mississippi State up 37-31 with a banked-in jumper with just under 16 minutes left.
That's when Duke took over.
Greenwell started the decisive run with a straightaway 3-pointer, and Duke reeled off 12 straight points during the run, going up 57-42 on Williams' layup in the post with 5 1/2 minutes left.
''We had a string of consecutive stops, and I think that's really what fueled it,'' Williams said.
William had 11 points and Dillingham finished with 10 rebounds for Mississippi State, which ended one of the best seasons in program history.
The Bulldogs set school records for wins both overall and in Southeastern Conference play, but were denied their second Sweet 16 berth.
It was hard to figure out which team was the true favorite: Duke held the better seed and had home-court advantage, but Mississippi State was ranked 12th in the final AP Top 25 - four spots better than the Blue Devils.
And it played out that evenly, with neither team leading by more than seven until Duke's big second-half run.
''I'd like to play them in two days back at the Hump,'' Schaefer said, referring to the Bulldogs' Humphrey Coliseum. ''Pretty sure that isn't going to happen, though.''
Williams has blocked so many shots during her career - 426, in fact - that it was odd that her first shot of her Cameron finale was blocked, with Alwal rejecting her layup about 2 minutes in. Williams got her back, swatting away Alwal's jumper with 13 minutes left. ''She owned the paint,'' coach Joanne P. McCallie said of Williams.
Mississippi State didn't make its first 2-point field goal until more than 11 minutes had elapsed. Alwal's layup in the post with about 8:50 left in the half was the only one for the Bulldogs until the final 2 minutes of the half. Mississippi State made just eight 2-points shots all day.
Mississippi State: Breanna Richardson had just three points on 1-of-7 shooting two days after finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds in a first-round win over Tulane.
Duke: The turnover-prone Blue Devils had just three giveaways in the second half after turning it over a combined 41 times in the first half of this game and the sloppy 54-52 win over Albany two days earlier.
Mississippi State: Season over.
Duke: Plays the Princeton-Maryland winner on Saturday in Spokane, Washington, in the round of 16.
Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap