DURHAM, N.C. - Tennessee's most inconsistent virtue covered for its vices Monday night.
The Lady Vols embraced a pregame speech by coach Pat Summitt and then went after the basketball in like manner, relying on rebounding to stay the unsteady course to a 67-64 women's basketball victory over Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
For No. 2 Tennessee (18-1) the victory ended a three-game losing streak against No. 9 Duke (15-5). In the gritty process, the Lady Vols stopped the Blue Devils' school-record 24-game home winning streak, the longest active streak in the nation.
"It was definitely a big win for us,'' UT senior guard Alexis Hornbuckle said. "Going 0-3 against Duke the last three years is no fun."
Tennessee's 40-29 rebounding advantage covered for 23 turnovers and 40 percent field goal shooting. The Lady Vols came up on the short end of points inbeneath the boards (30-22) and points off turnovers (29-18). Yet they compensated with a 21-0 whitewash in second-chance points.
"How many teams in women's basketball shoot 50 percent? Very few,'' Summitt said. "What you have to do is make defensive rebounding a priority. To me, that's where you can take away the edge.
"Duke, they're a great rebounding team. I thought we had to take away their second-chance opportunities. We did a great job on the offensive boards, but I thought defensive boards would be the key stat."
She made her perspective a point of emphasis beforehand. The players made rebounding their mission against a team that was among the nation's leaders in rebound margin (plus-9.1) and had outrebounded seven of its last eight opponents by an average of 15.3.
The Lady Vols' dominance, which featured a 24-18 edge in defensive rebounds and a 16-11 advantage on offense, was a huge accomplishment, considering they had been relatively ordinary plus-3.8 rebounders.
"The basketball gods said no tonight,'' Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "Not if you're going to rebound like that. It's not going to happen for you."
Duke center Chante Black, who shared team scoring honors with Jasmine Thomas with 13 points but grabbed a season-low two rebounds, had the same take on the game.
"The stat sheet doesn't lie,'' she said. "I know when I was out there, I felt that I wasn't rebounding as well as I should have."
Despite leading by as many as nine points in the second half and by five with 4 1/2 minutes left, the Lady Vols needed a basket from Candace Parker with 22 seconds left to break a 64-all tie.
After Duke's Abby Waner missed an open 3-point shot for the lead, Lady Vols center Nicky Anosike scrambed to the floor to tie up the basketball with 4.1 seconds left, giving UT the possession.
After Parker hit one of two free throws with 3.2 seconds left, Waner made a final heave from beyond halfcourt that actually hit near the rim.
"I was really proud of this team,'' Summitt said. "I knew it would be a tough environment. I knew it would be a great challenge."
Parker led Tennessee with 17 points and 12 rebounds, but she shot 4-for-13 from the floor and committed six turnovers.
Fellow senior Hornbuckle shot 1-for-9 from the floor and committed four turnovers. She did manage to collect five steals. And she hit all four of her free throws with Duke's "Cameron Crazies" student section again chanting "Wal-Mart", reminding Hornbuckle of her arrest on a misdemeanor charge of shoplifting at a Wal-Mart during her senior year in high school.
Summitt, who had threatened last week to discontinue the Duke series if these taunts continued, said she didn't hear the chants.
Hornbuckle said she blew a kiss the students' way.
"I was showing love,'' she said. "Not showing disrespect."
The Lady Vols veterans showed a lot of respect for freshman Angie Bjorklund and Vicki Baugh.
Bjorklund scored 13 points. The Crazies did get to her but in a good way for UT. They goaded her into a rushed 3-pointer that she somehow managed to swish with 5:26 left.
"Oh gosh,'' said Parker, describing her reaction to the shot. "It went in."
Baugh, meanwhile, scored seven of her nine points in the first half, when Tennessee trailed by as many as seven points.
"Angie and I were sitting here talking about how Vicki came in and played her butt off,'' Parker said. "... She really helped us."