- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 26, 2002

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) Alana Beard scored 24 points and Monique Currie added 15 as Duke beat South Carolina 77-68 last night in the East Region championship to earn its second trip to the Final Four.
The top-seeded Blue Devils (31-3), who have won a school-record 22 straight games, advance to San Antonio to face the winner of last night's late West Region final between Oklahoma and Colorado. The Blue Devils are returning to the Final Four for the first time since 1999, when they lost to Purdue in the championship game.
South Carolina (25-7) beat Duke during the regular season, winning 87-81 in overtime at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Nov.25.
Last night, the Blue Devils had an answer for nearly run by the third-seeded Gamecocks, rallying from a one-point deficit midway through the second half with several clutch shots and tough defense.
The Gamecocks rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to take a 46-45 lead on a layup by Jocelyn Penn with 9:54 to play.
The Blue Devils answered quickly, as Beard scored on a three-point play and added two free throws to put Duke up 50-46 with 9:03 left. She later added two free throws and a short jumper in the lane after recovering a batted pass for a 68-59 lead with 3:16 to go.
South Carolina didn't get closer than five the rest of the way.
Beard was 9-for-12 from the floor, and had seven rebounds, five assists, five steals and two blocks to earn Most Outstanding Player honors.
Reserve Krista Gingrich had 10 points and hit two key 3-pointers in the second half as the Blue Devils made the decisive run.
Shaunzinski Gortman had 17 points to lead South Carolina, while Penn added 14.
South Carolina scored the game's first eight points before Duke used a 14-0 run midway through the half to take a 35-22 halftime lead.
Duke's defense was suffocating, holding South Carolina without a point for nearly seven minutes and forcing the Gamecocks into 10 straight misses during the run. The Blue Devils blocked shots on three straight possessions during the run and had eight for the half, matching a season high.

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