Krystal Thomas keeps the ball from Maryland's Jackie… (AP photo )
DURHAM, N.C. — — Through much of Sunday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium, a pocket of red-wearing Maryland women's basketball fans cheered and waved foam fingers. But they sat quietly in the waning moments of the Terrapins' 71-59 loss to No. 8 Duke.
"The first 36 minutes we were there," Maryland coach Brenda Frese said. "The last four minutes, you saw veterans for Duke step up and provide great leadership."
Despite a gutsy effort, the Terrapins (18-9, 5-7) faded down the stretch as the Blue Devils (23-4, 11-1) showed why they are the class of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Maryland center Lynetta Kizer, who did not start in the previous four games, had 13 points and 13 rebounds. Karima Christmas led Duke with a career-high 25 points.
While Duke seems to have the veteran presence to make a run in March, the young Terrapins are still wondering whether they will make the NCAA tournament. Maryland's loss here will add pressure on the team to win at Boston College on Thursday and at home against No. 10 Florida State on Sunday to secure an at-large bid.
"I think we continue to take one day at a time," Frese said when asked about her team's NCAA tournament credentials. "I think there's a lot of great basketball for us with the two games we have left and with the ACC tournament. When you play hard and compete like we did today, those things will all take care of themselves."
Maryland has a poor ACC record and few impressive out-of-conference wins, but it has played Duke tough twice. The Blue Devils won at Maryland, 58-57, on Jan. 24.
The turning point seemed to come with a key swing for the Blue Devils. After Duke center Krystal Thomas put back a rebound, guard Jasmine Thomas stripped Maryland's Lori Bjork and converted an easy fast-break layup that gave the Blue Devils a 52-47 lead with just 6 minutes 31 seconds remaining.