Top-ranked Duke will honor its three seniors when it takes on Virginia Tech tonight in the last home game of the season.
Seniors Monique Currie, Mistie Williams and Jessica Foley will play their final game in Cameron Indoor Stadium. If the Blue Devils (24-1,11-1 in the ACC) can defeat the Hokies (18-7, 5-7) on Senior Night, the victory would ensure that Saturday's game against North Carolina will decide the ACC regular season champion.
The senior class needs just five wins to become the winningest class in program history.
"They have each meant something so special not just to this team, but to this program over their four years here," head coach Gail Goestenkors said. "They have each taken separate paths to get to this point, but the things they have in common are their leadership abilities and their mental and physical toughness."
Currie could have graduated last year but after missing the 2002-2003 season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, she utilized a fifth year of eligibility to return this season. The All-American leads Duke in scoring and is coming off a career-high 43 points at Miami Sunday.
Foley, meanwhile, has taken on a lesser role this year as the Blue Devils have enjoyed more depth. After starting 32 games last season, Foley is playing just 16 minutes per contest but remains one of the team's leaders in three-point shooting.
Mistie Williams, on the other hand, has started every game over the last three years and has increased her scoring each season. In Foley and Williams' careers, Duke has compiled a staggering 120-12 record and has never lost to 10 of the ACC's 12 teams heading into tonight's home finale.
"I don't think emotion is going to take us over just because we have a whole lot of season left," Williams said. "We plan on playing 10 more games in this season so Senior Night being early is actually good for the team, that way we can get refocused."
Virginia Tech will not be in awe of the celebratory atmosphere, however, as it seeks a marquee win to boost its NCAA Tournament resumé. The Hokies, who feature the ACC's top rebounder in Kerri Gardin, rank 16th in the RPI despite currently sitting seventh in the conference standings.
"They are just a feisty team and they are trying to make the tournament, so they have a great sense of urgency," Williams said. "Coming here and knowing that it's Senior Night and there are a lot of other things going on, they are going to try to take advantage of our position, and we have to be ready for them."
The Blue Devils looked as if they would blow out the Hokies Feb. 6 in Blacksburg, Va. Duke led by 17 early in the second half, but Virginia Tech went on a 10-0 run to make the game interesting, before the Blue Devils reestablished control and won 73-62.
Carrie Mason, who went 4-for-4 from three-point range in the last matchup, will likely be the focus of Duke's defense. Offensively against the Hokies, the Blue Devils will look to repeat the advantage they held in the paint, where Williams and sophomore Chante Black combined to score 26 points.
"That needs to be a focus for us," Goestenkors said. "We need to make sure we work the ball inside-out and take advantage of our size."
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