CONWAY, S.C. (AP) — With the game on the line, Lexie Brown made the key plays down the stretch and Duke got the defensive stops it needed to get back to the ACC Tournament final for the first time in a few years.
Brown scored 20 points, including five in the final 1:27, to help the No. 13 Blue Devils beat 16th-ranked Miami 57-52 on Saturday in the semifinals.
“I thought we played our very best when we needed to,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “The fourth quarter was very strong for us.”
The Blue Devils, who have won 10 straight games, advanced to the conference championship for the first time since 2014. Duke (27-4) will play No. 3 Notre Dame on Sunday, the team the Blue Devils lost to in their last appearance in the title game.
“Obviously they’ve done extremely well,” McCallie said. “It’s really about us. I mean, it’s really about what we want to do.”
Duke has done a tremendous job defensively in the tournament. They held Miami to 37 percent shooting on Saturday. Not bad for a team that was picked to finish sixth in the conference. McCallie and her players believed they could have a great season.
“Apparently we’re the only ones who did,” the coach said shaking her head. “That’s all I can say. I don’t know what to tell you.”
Trailing 52-51 with 1:27 left, Brown hit two free throws to give Duke the lead. The Blue Devils then forced a shot clock violation on the Hurricanes next possession. Brown, a redshirt junior, then converted a 3-point play to give Duke a 56-52 lead.
Miami came up empty on its next possession and Kyra Lambert hit a free throw to seal the win.
Keyona Hayes scored 17 points to lead the Hurricanes (23-8).
It was a back and forth contest where Duke led 51-46 before Miami scored six straight to take the lead on Emese Hof’s layup with 1:54 left.
“We’ve played our best basketball in March which is a coach’s dream,” Miami coach Katie Meier said. “Hopefully March still has a lot of adventure in front of us.”
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Miami: Earned the seven seed in the tournament and beat Georgia Tech on Thursday before topping Florida State 59-58 on Friday.
Duke: Earned the No. 3 seed in the tournament and routed Syracuse 68-46 on Friday.
Miami: The Hurricanes were trying to reach the ACC Tournament final for the first time in school history. Miami last was in a conference tournament final when they won back-to-back championships in the Big East in 1992 and 1993. … Meier starred at Duke as a player from 1986-90. She is fifth on the school’s all-time scoring list with 1,761 points and was the ACC rookie of the year in 1986. The Canes also have other Duke connections as assistant coaches
Duke: The Blue Devils current hot streak gives them a good chance to get one of the top few seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Miami: Waits for NCAA Tournament.
Duke: Faces top-seed Notre Dame on Sunday in ACC Tournament title game.
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