Colorado knocks off Duke in OT to reach first Sweet 16 since 2003

· Mar. 21, 2023, 7:50 am
NCAA Colorado Duke BasketballNCAA Colorado Duke BasketballKarl B. DeBlaker/AP
Colorado's Frida Formann (3) controls the ball against Duke's Celeste Taylor (0) during the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Monday, March 20, 2023, in Durham, N.C.

By Bob Sutton/AP

Colorado made enough big plays to survive.

It was a pretty sweet moment for Quay Miller and the Buffaloes.

Miller had 17 points and 14 rebounds, and Aaronette Vonleh converted two overtime baskets in the lane after picking up her fourth foul, helping No. 6 seed Colorado beat third-seeded Duke 61-53 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday night.

“Our ability to just never wilt,” Colorado coach JR Payne said. “When things get hard, we dig in. We lean into each other.”

Jaylyn Sherrod had 14 points and Vonleh finished with 12 as the Buffaloes (25-8) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 20 years.

Colorado outscored Duke 11-3 in overtime after the Blue Devils made a big push in the second half.

“I think the best thing that we did was just embrace it,” Miller said. “Even though the crowd was going against us, it’s a beautiful environment and we thrive off that. We’ve been underdogs all season.”

NCAA Colorado Duke BasketballKarl B. DeBlaker/AP
Duke's Reigan Richardson (24) looks to pass the ball around Colorado's Tayanna Jones (1) during the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Monday, March 20, 2023, in Durham, N.C.

Colorado held Duke without a field goal for almost seven minutes to end the game. By the end, the Buffaloes were celebrating with the pep band in the stands after quieting the home crowd.

“I just love being the bad guy, and feed off of that and I think the team feeds off that, too,” Sherrod said. “We’ve been in a lot of those situations, so I don’t think it’s anything that shocked us.”

Elizabeth Balogun scored 14 points and Reigan Richardson had 10, but the Blue Devils didn’t hit a field goal in overtime. Duke (26-7) overcame a 13-point deficit in regulation.

“They were better in that five-minute stretch and that’s why they’re moving on,” Duke coach Kara Lawson said. “It hurts to come up short at this time of the year, but I’m really proud of my group and the season that they’ve had.”

Next up for Colorado is Caitlin Clark and Iowa in the Seattle 4 Region semifinals.

“I knew we could do it, it was just a matter of actually doing it,” Miller said. “Right now, I just feel extremely blessed. I guess I’m still taking it all in.”

Duke lost for the third time in its last four second-round home games in the NCAA tourney.

Sherrod scored on a drive with 33.9 seconds left in regulation, but missed a free throw to leave the game tied at 50-all.

That capped a hectic stretch.

NCAA Colorado Duke BasketballKarl B. DeBlaker/AP
Colorado's Jaylyn Sherrod (00) causes Duke's Celeste Taylor (0) to lose control of the ball during the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Monday, March 20, 2023, in Durham, N.C.

Balogun made a corner 3 and Vanessa de Jesus scored on a fast break as Duke turned a three-point deficit into a 48-46 lead with 3:34 to go.

Celeste Taylor’s layup pushed Duke’s advantage to 50-46 before Sherrod’s drive gave Colorado its first points in more than 3½ minutes. The Buffaloes got a defensive stop, called timeout and set up Sherrod’s tying basket.

Colorado led 32-26 at halftime, boosted by Miller’s 15 points. The teams combined for 24 first-half turnovers, with Duke committing 13 of them.

Taylor finished with eight points, eight assists, 10 rebounds and 10 steals in a terrific all-around performance for Duke. She played a key role in sparking the school's turnaround after the Blue Devils had gone without an NCAA tourney win since 2018.

“What this group has done is really changed how we’re looked at, I think, after some down years,” Lawson said.

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