When Duke's Alison Bales made her first two shots from long range, she knew it was going to be her night.
When she rejected a shot by USC's Allison Jaskowiak only 3:33 into the game, the Trojans knew it was going to be a long night.
Bales scored 22 points, took down nine rebounds and blocked six shots Tuesday for top-seeded Duke, which ended USC's season, 85-51, in the second round of the NCAA Bridgeport Regional at Ted Constant Center.
"I played against her in high school [in Dayton, Ohio], and I know what she can do," said USC's biggest player, Chloe Kerr, who at 6 feet 3 gives up four inches and about 40 pounds to Bales. "She's so big, I can't shoot over her. I just have to do the best I can do against her."
Bales' early block of Jaskowiak's shot came at the front end of a 15-0 Duke run that sealed USC's fate. The Blue Devils blocked 10 shots in all.
USC (19-12) was spooked by Bales' presence in the middle and began to launch wild three-point shots before Kerr made a basket to stop the bleeding.
The eighth-seeded Trojans made only three of 20 from three-point range and shot only 31% as Blue Devil Coach Gail Goestenkors sent her players in waves.
Duke (28-3) played 11 women. USC had seven healthy bodies.
"I don't know who it was, but I was like, 'Man, a reserve in the game makes a play like that,' " Trojan Coach Mark Trakh said of one late-game sequence. "My assistant coach looked at me and said, 'Uh, Coach, that was a McDonald's All-American.' So that kind of tells you the kind of wave they bring in."
Defeat was total, and so Trakh used it as a lesson. "It's good for the kids to see what they have to aspire to to play at that level," he said.
The question is, what level?
"Duke has size, speed, quickness ... all of the things you need to go deep into this tournament," he said. "They are built for this tournament right now. We're kind of pulling for them now so we can say we played the national champions."
The Blue Devils advanced to a date with Michigan State on Sunday in Bridgeport, Conn.