Instead, freshman Chelsea Gray and the Blue Devils answered with the decisive spurt to beat Marist 71-66, sending them on to the tournament’s round of 16 for the 13th time in 14 years.
Gray scored all 13 of her points in the second half to help Duke (31-3) rally from 11 down, including the go-ahead free throws with 2:27 left in an 11-0 run that finally put the second-seeded Blue Devils ahead for good. Krystal Thomas added 10 second-half points, while fellow senior Jasmine Thomas had a team-high 17 as the Blue Devils escaped a stunning loss on their home court.
“We’ve been together a long time,” McCallie said. “We’ve been in many, many close games. I think we’re very comfortable with it. I don’t know what people are thinking, but at this time it’s not about blowouts and leads. … I think our team did slow down a little bit and executed and relaxed and enjoyed the opportunity.”
That seemed to be a fitting word for this game considering how close the 10th-seeded Red Foxes (31-3) came from pulling off a huge upset. Despite playing the second half without injured leading scorer Erica Allenspach, Marist led 60-54 on a 3-pointer from Kate Oliver with 5:22 left and even had a shot to tie it in the final seconds after the Blue Devils had taken the lead.
Corielle Yarde had 25 points and 12 rebounds to lead Marist, which had won 27 straight games overall.
“I thought it was one of the best performances our kids have ever had in any game,” Marist coach Brian Giorgis said.
In the end, however, Marist’s players finally wore down against Duke’s variety of pressure and trapping defenses. Duke shot 55 percent in the second half after going 11-for-34 (32 percent) before the break, with Thomas setting a more physical tone by scoring on several stickbacks in the paint.
Gray, meanwhile, scored seven points during the Duke’s 11-0 run for the lead. She followed a basket from fellow freshman Haley Peters with a 3-pointer, then stole the ball on the press and was fouled to give her the go-ahead free throws. Two possession later, she poked the ball loose from Oliver and got out in transition for a layup that capped the run and gave Duke a 65-60 lead with 1:3 3 left.
That run gave Duke its first lead since 8-7.
“Coach P had stressed defense in the locker room,” Gray said. “I wanted to come out there and just play D. That’s what we had to do in order to get the win. That gave me momentum, and I knocked down a 3, and then I just got excited from there.”
Trailing 69-66, Marist had a chance to force overtime, but Leanne Ockenden missed a good look on a 3-pointer in the final seconds. Peters came up with the rebound and hit two free throws with 1.9 seconds left to seal the win. That capped the Blue Devils’ 16th straight NCAA victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium, and advanced them in the Philadelphia Regional to face third-seeded DePaul.
Ohio St. 67, Georgia Tech 60
DePaul 75, Penn State 73
Gonzaga 89, UCLA 75
SPOKANE, Wash. — Courtney Vandersloot had 29 points and 17 assists to help No. 11 seed Gonzaga beat third-seeded UCLA.
Playing in front of a raucous home crowd, Vandersloot became the first player in Division I history — men or women — to record 2,000 points and 1,000 assists in her career. And after that benchmark was set, the senior made sure her college career would last at least one more game, in the round of 16, across town at the Spokane Arena next Saturday night.
Kayla Standish matched her career high with 30 points to lead Gonzaga (30-4).
Darxia Morris led UCLA with 20 points and Jasmine Dixon added 18, but the Bruins (28-5) were bounced in the second-round of the tournament for the second straight year, given no favors having to play on Gonzaga’s home floor.
Notre Dame 77, Temple 64
SALT LAKE CITY — Natalie Novosel scored 17 points and Devereaux Peters had her ninth career double-double to lead Notre Dame over Temple and advance the Irish to the Sweet 16 for the 10th time.
Peters finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. Skylar Diggins added 15 points for Notre Dame (28-7), while Becca Bruszewski had 12 and Natalie Achonwa 10 off the bench.
Shey Peddy led the Owls with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, and Kristen McCarthy added 16 points. Temple (24-9) has lost all five of its second-round games.
The Owls tried to make a game of it, pulling within 52-47 on a 3-pointer by McCarthy wth 13:19 left.
But they were outscored 10-0 over the next 3 minutes to make it a 15-point game. They got no closer than nine the rest of the way.
North Carolina 86, Kentucky 74
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Italee Lucas scored 22 points and Jessica Breland added 18, helping North Carolina hold off Kentucky, the Tar Heels’ superior size trumping the Wildcats’ awesome quickness.
North Carolina (27-8) will face Stanford on Saturday in Spokane, Wash. The fifth-seeded Tar Heels reached the round of 16 one year after going one-and-out in the NCAA tournament without Breland, who missed last season while fighting cancer.
The fourth-seeded Wildcats were led by Victoria Dunlap’s 23 points. Kentucky, which hasn’t beaten North Carolina in five tries, finished 25-9 a year after reaching the round of eight.
Stanford 75, St. John’s 49
STANFORD, Calif. — Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored 22 points, little sister Chiney added 13 points and 12 rebounds and top-seeded Stanford overcame a slow start to reach the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 with a 75-49 win over St. John’s on Monday night.
The Cardinal (31-2) captured their school-record 63rd straight victory at Maples Pavilion, capping a perfect run by the seniors on their home floor for their careers — the first group in school history to accomplish that feat.
Centhya Hart scored 15 points to lead scrappy St. John’s (22-11), which fell in the second round for the second straight year and still has never won twice in the tournament.
Kayla Pedersen had 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists in her final game at Maples and Pac-10 Player of the Year Jeanette Pohlen wasn’t as sharp as usual in scoring eight points in her last hurrah at home.