Duke Receives No. 2 Seed In Fresno Region; Will Take On Samford In First Round

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DURHAM, N.C. –  The sixth-ranked Duke women’s basketball team received its 18th straight NCAA Tournament selection on Monday.

The Blue Devils (24-5) were seeded No. 2 in the Fresno Region and will play 15th-seeded Samford (20-12) in the first round on Sunday, March 18, 2012 at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tenn.  The game will be televised live on ESPN2 and will tip at approximately 7:45 p.m. (EST).

The Blue Devils have earned one of the top eight seeds in 11 out of the last 12 years in the NCAA Tournament and are coming off back-to-back Elite Eight appearances.

Samford is coming off winning its second straight Southern Conference Tournament title with a 54-43 victory over Appalachian State on March 5.  The Bulldogs will be making their second overall appearance in the NCAA Tournament.  Samford has won at least 20 games in the last five-straight seasons and in six of the last seven seasons under the direction of Mike Morris, who is in his 10th season with the Bulldogs.

Leading Samford on the season has been Paige Anderson (12.4 points, 3.1 rebounds), Ruth Ketcham (8.8 points, 4.3 rebounds) and Taylor Reece (8.8 points, 3.1 rebounds).  The Bulldogs rank 20th nationally in three-point field goals per game (7.1) and own five players who have hit 27 or more on the year.

The winner of the Duke/Samford game will advance to face the winner of the No. 7 seed Vanderbilt vs. No. 10 seed Middle Tennessee State game.  The contest will be played on Tuesday, March 20 at 9:30 p.m.  Vanderbilt will host Middle Tennessee State on Sunday, March 18 at 5:10 p.m., in the first round.

Duke and Samford will meet for the first time in school history.

Vanderbilt will host the first and second rounds, after carding a 22-9 overall and 9-7 mark in the Southeastern Conference under head coach Melanie Balcomb.  The Commodores will be making its 25th NCAA Tournament appearance and their 13th consecutive bid. On the season, Vanderbilt has been led by Christina Foggie (17.8 points, 83 treys), Jasmine Lister (12.2 points, 44 treys), Tiffany Clarke (11.5 points, 7.4 rebounds) and Stephan Holzer (11.1 points,  7.3 rebounds).

Middle Tennessee State will be playing in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight year, and for the eighth time in the last nine seasons, after carding a 26-6 overall record in 2011-12.   The Blue Raiders won the Sun Belt’s East Division outright for a fourth-straight season with a perfect 16-0 league mark.  Junior Kortni Jones (17.0 points, 113 treys) and sophomore Ebony Rowe (16.5 points, 9.9 rebounds) have led Middle Tennessee State on the season.

The Blue Devils received an at large invitation to the 2012 NCAA Tournament after posting a 24-5 overall record on the season, which included a 15-1 mark in the challenging Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).  The Blue Devils totaled their 11th overall ACC regular season title and the first outright crown since the 2006-07 campaign.

Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie, who was the 2012 ACC Coach of the Year, has guided the Blue Devils through a very challenging season that has included losing three potential starters due to injuries and other setbacks.  After starting 17 games, Richa Jackson was lost in February to a torn ACL, Chloe Wells started the first 10 contests before missing the rest of the season due to a violation of university policy and freshman Amber Henson was limited early in the season with an injury suffered in high school before having surgery.

On the year, the Blue Devils have featured a very balanced squad that includes five double-figure scorers -- Elizabeth Williams (14.3), Chelsea Gray (12.0), Tricia Liston (11.1), Haley Peters (10.6) and Wells (10.4).  Williams, Gray and Peters received All-ACC accolades, while Williams was recently named ESPN.com National Freshman of the Year.  A product of Virginia Beach, Va., Williams was also selected ACC Rookie of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

Entering the 2012 NCAAs, the Blue Devils own an all-time record of 46-18 in NCAA Tournament play and are 47-19 in all postseason action.  Duke has advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 13 out of the last 14 years and reached the NCAA Final Four in 1999, 2002, 2003 and 2006.  As a conference, the ACC received four bids in 2012 -- Duke, Maryland, Miami and Georgia Tech.

All session tickets will be $27.00 for adults and $17.00 for children (12 and under) and students.  Tickets can be purchased by heading to www.vucommodores.com.