RALEIGH, N.C. – A group of blue-shirted fans started the “Let’s Go Duke” chant as the clock ran down on Temple’s season Tuesday.
In the end, the Owls just didn’t have enough firepower to overcome the top-ranked team in the nation.
The eighth-seeded Owls lost to No. 1-seeded Duke, 62-52, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the RBC Center.
As the game drew to a close, coach Dawn Staley clapped from the sideline as she watched the Owls’ hold their heads up high despite coming up short.
“Everybody put it all out there,” senior Fatima Maddox said. “I don’t think anyone really had any regrets about how we played or the effort that we gave.”
Senior Lindsay Harding, the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year, led the Blue Devils (32-1) with 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Junior Wanisha Smith scored 15 points while sophomore Carrem Gay added 13.
Maddox scored a team-high 18 points for the Owls (25-8). Senior Kamesha Hairston notched her 12th and final double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Junior Lady Comfort contributed 12 points and nine rebounds.
Temple trailed Duke for all but the first 28 seconds of the game.
The Blue Devils went into halftime with a 37-26 advantage, but the Owls rallied at the start of the second half.
The momentum seemed to swing over to the Owls’ side after Comfort hit a jumper to cut the Blue Devils lead to five points with 9:21 remaining.
But on the next possession, Gay nailed a shot from the top of the key to slow any type of momentum the Owls had gained.
Gay’s basket sparked a 9-0 Duke run over the next four minutes, 46 seconds, which put the Blue Devils up, 60-46, with 4:34 left.
That was enough to put the Owls away.
“It was tough to cut into their lead,” Hairston said. “They were a very good team.”
The Blue Devils, who have made four Final Four appearances in the last eight years, will take on Rutgers Saturday in Greensboro, N.C. in the regional semifinals. It will be the Blue Devils’ 10th consecutive Sweet 16 appearance.
“We’re glad to be moving on,” Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. “Give Temple a lot of credit. They make you play ugly because they are so physical. They are very gritty and they have a lot of pride.”
With the loss, the Owls dropped to 0-3 all-time in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“I am tired of losing games like this one tonight,” Staley said. “We are a program in need of a big win. Once we are able to get a big win, our program will move up. It is just hard trying get over the hump.”
Tyson McCloud can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.