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Duke looking to pull off upset against Notre Dame

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 1, 2013 at 5:47 pm •  Published: April 1, 2013
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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The best phrase Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie to describe doing the unexpected is "the tingle."

McCallie has experienced it before.

Now, she's hoping to experience "the tingle" again when the Blue Devils take on top-seeded Notre Dame in the final of the Norfolk Regional on Tuesday night. McCallie and her players know the Fighting Irish are expected to win.

"You don't really have to be an underdog to get 'the tingle.'" McCallie said Monday, adding that she's experienced it a few times in her career. The most notable instances were when her 10th-seeded Maine team beat No. 7 seed Stanford in 1999, and again when her top-seeded Michigan State team rallied from 16 down in the final 7 minutes to beat overall No. 1 Tennessee in 2005.

The tingle, McCallie said, is "when your team really goes out there and just totally expresses their power and who they are from start to finish on both sides of the ball, that does just fine."

Duke (33-2) might need to do all of that to keep the game close against Notre Dame, which has won 29 straight and features All-American senior point guard Skylar Diggins, one of the game's most dynamic players.

Duke had an All-American too, Chelsea Gray, but the point guard suffered a dislocated right kneecap 10 games ago, and her absence has been evident in the tournament, especially on offense.

After scoring more than 75 points a game during the regular season, Duke is averaging less than 62 through three tournament contests, two of which were played on its home floor. In Sunday's victory against sixth-seeded Nebraska, the Blue Devils shot 32.8 percent and relied heavily on their defense in a 53-45 victory.

But being expected to lose could work to Duke's advantage, guard Tricia Liston said.

"I think that gives us a little bit of an edge because we really have nothing to lose in this game and there's no pressure on us and nobody thinks we can do this besides ourselves," she said, "and so I think it can be a source of motivation for us to prove it to ourselves and prove that we belong here."

The Blue Devils proved that long ago and will be playing it their 11th regional final in 16 years. The problem has been going farther, something they've managed just four times, and not since 2006.

Notre Dame has no such issues. The Fighting Irish have played in the last two national championship games, losing to Texas A&M in 2011 and Baylor last season, and now face Diggins' last opportunity.

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