2017 NCAA WBB Tournament: Duke-Hampton pregame notes, quotes and more

Cheryl Treworgy, TSN via PrettySporty.com
Cheryl Treworgy, TSN via PrettySporty.com

DURHAM, N.C. – The second-seeded Duke Blue Devils haven’t lost a game at Cameron Indoor Stadium all season, and they will look to continue that streak when they face the 15th-seeded Hampton Lady Pirates in first-round play in the 2017 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday.

After missing the Tournament for the first time since 1994 last season, the Blue Devils have returned with a strong resume, a 27-5 record, one similar to many the program represented itself with in previous years.

They begin NCAA postseason play at home for the 23rd time.

“We’re just really excited to play,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said on Friday.

“It’s been a great couple of weeks for rest and also for getting to work on some fundamentals that we needed to work on. We’re just pacing ourselves right now because we play tomorrow night at 9. We’re very excited. This is a tournament of winners. Every team is very, very good. You just prepare and get your energy in the right spot so we’ll be good to go tomorrow.”

Facing a Lady Pirates squad that won the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championship and earnied its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance, Duke is familiar with its opening-round opponent.

Duke and Hampton will meet for the sixth time in school history and the third time in the NCAA Tournament.

The Blue Devils lead the series with a 5-0 record and last faced the Lady Pirates on March 24, 2013 with Duke earning a 67-51 victory in Durham.

“We are tremendously blessed to be here in Durham with the opportunity to play a great Duke team,” Hampton head coach David Six said.

“Last year, our men’s coach, Edward Joyner speed dialed Jesus before they played Kentucky. I’m going to ask him to text me that number. Duke is a fantastic group and it will be tremendously challenging, but it has been that way all year in terms of having starters out and making adjustments. We are preparing as we speak and we look forward to the challenge tomorrow.”

Six owns six MEAC titles since 2010, and brings a team led by Malia Tate-DeFreitas (17.2 points, 5.4 rebounds), Monnazjea Finney-Smith (12.5 points, 5.7 rebounds) and Kaylah Lupoe (8.0 points, 5.9 rebounds).

The Blue Devils enter NCAA play coming off an ACC Championship game appearance, falling to top-seeded Notre Dame.

McCallie, who is the 2010, 2012 and 2013 ACC Coach of the Year, has guided the Blue Devils to three ACC Championship titles, and in four out of the last seven years, the Blue Devils have reached the NCAA Elite Eight.

Winners of 10 out of its last 11 contests, Duke has been led by redshirt junior Lexie Brown along with redshirt junior Rebecca Greenwell – both selected First Team All-ACC by the Blue Ribbon Panel and the league head coaches.

The tandem of Brown and Greenwell are two of the top scorers in the ACC, combining for 34.7 points per game, while becoming the first duo in school history to register 70 or more three-pointers in a season.

Entering the 2017 Tournament, the Blue Devils own an all-time record of 55-22 in NCAA Tournament play, and have won 21 out of their last 22 NCAA Tournament contests in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Duke has advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 16 out of the last 19 years and reached the NCAA Final Four in 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2006.

The winner of the Duke-Hampton game will advance to face the winner of the No. 7 seed Temple vs. No. 10 seed Oregon game, which will tip earlier at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

Notes on Temple & Oregon: Temple (24-7) received an at-large selection in the NCAA Tournament and will be making its 11th appearance.  The Owls have been paced by Feyond Fitzgerald (17.3 points, 3.5 rebounds), Alliya Butts (15.1 points, 84 treys), Donnaizh Fountain (14.1 points, 7.5 rebounds) and Tanaya Atkinson (13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds) on the year…Oregon enters the NCAA Tournament with a 20-13 overall record and was awarded an at-large bid to the dance.  The Ducks are making their 13th appearance in NCAA action and have been led by Ruthy Hebard (14.5 points, 8.5 rebounds), Sabrina Ionescu (14.3 points, 6.6 rebounds) and Lexi Bando (10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds).