Blue Devils will face Georgia in regional semis

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Alison Bales was already dominating on defense. With the rest of her teammates struggling, she carried that over to the other end of the floor and sent second-seeded Duke back to the round of 16 for the eighth year in a row.

The 6-foot-7 center scored 10 of her 16 points down the stretch and Monique Currie led Duke with 21 points in a 70-65 victory over seventh-seeded Boston College on Tuesday night in the Chattanooga Regional.

"That's been the focus all year, for me to be more aggressive offensively," Bales said. "And I think that was just showing I can do it. I just need to more often."

Mistie Williams added 12 points for the Blue Devils (30-4), who advanced to play sixth-seeded Georgia on Saturday in Chattanooga.

Bales' season high of 21 points came more than two months ago against Wake Forest, and she reached double figures only twice since then. But when the Eagles (20-10) closed within three in the second half, she took over.

"She stepped up when we needed her," Williams said. "And when we needed her, she came up and hit some big-time baskets. She was just really aggressive with the ball down low. That's probably what changed it."

On defense, Bales finished with six blocks, and she beat her season average of 7.5 points with a brilliant stretch that lasted nearly two minutes. She had a layup, made a free throw, swished a jumper from the baseline and then powered over Lisa Macchia for another basket to make it 54-51.

"I almost felt like she came of age today," Blue Devils coach Gail Goestenkors said. "She's been playing great defense for us all year long, and we've been really trying to get her to be more aggressive at the offensive end of the floor, and it's tough to do. Down the stretch she wanted the basketball."

Bales left briefly after her fourth foul, and the Blue Devils increased the lead without her. Wanisha Smith and Chante Black combined for three free throws and Currie banked in a turnaround jumper while Boston College suddenly had trouble finding points.

When Bales came back, she immediately scored again, giving Duke a 61-51 lead with 2:17 left.

"I don't think we were surprised she scored," Eagles forward Brooke Queenan said. "I thought overall we did a good job on defense in the post, but we weren't surprised."

Still, the Eagles weren't done. Clare Droesch scored 10 of her 23 points after that, including consecutive 3-pointers within 15 seconds to bring Boston College within three. Currie converted two free throws with 3.6 seconds remaining to seal it for the Blue Devils.

Queenan added 17 points for the Eagles, who will join Duke in the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

"I felt like we had the ability to make it to the next round," Boston College coach Cathy Inglese. "I cannot be more pleased with the players' heart and effort in this game. I couldn't have asked for more."

Neither team looked very good offensively in the first 10 minutes of the second half -- Duke had only eight points and actually increased its lead. But Droesch hit a runner from the lane to bring Boston College to 44-38, and Kindyll Dorsey made a pair of 3s to make it 47-44.

At that point, the Blue Devils started going to Bales, and she did so well that Goestenkors wanted to give her the ultimate sign of celebration -- a chest bump. Unfortunately, the coach is only 5-8, so it probably wouldn't have worked.

"I just high-fived her," Goestenkors said. "She was calling for it, she was scoring inside for us. I was just so proud of her."

The Eagles fell to 5-6 over their final 11 games without leading scorer Jessalyn Deveny. She ruptured an Achilles tendon on Feb. 2, and despite Droesch matching her season best for the second game in a row, they couldn't make it to the round of 16.