2014 NCAA WBB Tournament: Duke seeded No. 2

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Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

DURHAM, N.C.The ninth-ranked Duke Blue Devils women’s basketball team received its 20th straight NCAA Tournament selection on Monday.

As the team watched the selection show on campus in Scharf Hall, the Blue Devils (27-6) were seeded No. 2 in the Lincoln Region of the 2014 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament and will tip off against the 15th-seeded Winthrop Eagles (24-8) in the first round of play at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The starting spot in the NCAA tournament is a familiar one for the Blue Devils who have been a No. 2 seed in each of the last five years.

Duke has earned one of the top eight seeds in 13 out of the last 14 years and is coming off four straight Elite Eight appearances.

“Playing at home is great for us, especially with the home crowd,” senior guard Tricia Liston said.

“Also for us seniors, being able to play on Cameron again, I think that’s something that’s going to be really special for us and it will give us good momentum for the first game and going into the next game.”

Winthrop received an automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament after claiming its first Big South Conference title with an 87-74 victory over the High Point Panthers.

The Eagles are guided on the sideline by second-year coach Kevin Cook and led on the court by three-time Big South Player of the Year Deque McClanahan (17.6 points, 6.5 rebounds), Erica Williams (15.6 points, 7.9 rebounds), Schaquilla Nunn (11.2 points, 9.9 rebounds) and Samiya Wright (10.4 points, 40 treys).

Duke and Winthrop have met only once before in the two teams’ all-time series with the Blue Devils posting an 80-45 win back on Dec. 9, 1986 in Durham, N.C.

Heading into postseason play, the Blue Devils currently have a squad led by double-figure performers in Tricia Liston (17.3 points), Elizabeth Williams (14.0 points), and Haley Peters (11.2 points).

Liston and Williams were recently named to the All-ACC First Team, while Williams earned ACC Defensive Player of the Year for the third consecutive year.

Liston has been included on the John R. Wooden Award final ballot for National Player of the Year.

“I know [Winthrop has] got a tremendously balanced scoring attack with four double-figure scorers, which is always interesting to see that balance,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

“From there, I’ll have to look at film to see how we’ll attack things tomorrow at practice. Of course we’re trying to do things to get ourselves better and then implement the scout report as well. We’re really excited to have an opponent. We’re really excited to get started.”

The winner of the Duke-Winthrop matchup will advance to face the winner of the other first-round game being played in Cameron on Saturday between the No. 7 seed DePaul Blue Demons and No. 10 seed Oklahoma Sooners.

Second round play in the Tournament will continue in Cameron on Monday at 6:30 p.m.