The Blue Devils won their second consecutive team title on Friday at the NCAA women's golf championships, and Southern California's Dewi-Claire Schreefel had two late birdies in a 3-under-par 69 to capture medalist honors.
With a 10-stroke margin, Duke claimed its fourth title -- second only to Arizona State's six. The Blue Devils are the first repeat champs since the Sun Devils won in 1997 and 1998.
The victory also helped put Duke in a positive light for a change. The players said the campus has been besieged by reporters and demonstrators since three members of the men's lacrosse team were accused -- and eventually charged -- with raping a stripper hired to perform at a team party.
'It's important that we kind of get our name back,' junior Anna Grzebien said. 'They haven't been proven guilty, (and) to put that label on Duke and college athletics isn't fair.'
Freshman Amanda Blumenherst said the victory was for all of the Blue Devils sports teams.
'All the athletes at Duke all kind of stick together,' she said. 'To go out and play well kind of helps the whole university and the athletic programs, too.'
But coach Dan Brooks said the lacrosse controversy had little or no impact on his propelling his team to the title.
'That was not even in our minds. The lacrosse thing didn't even come up,' Brooks said.
He conceded that the championship might help restore some luster to the university in some people's minds.
'Those of us who have been at Duke for a long, long time know what Duke is and what it stands for,' said Brooks, Duke's coach for the past 22 seasons. 'If some positive press about Duke reminds people of who we are, then that's a good thing. I like to think that what Duke is and what Duke stands for ... hasn't changed.'
The Blue Devils overpowered the 24-team field in the third round -- going 13 strokes lower than any other team -- to carry a 13-shot lead into the final round. They needed 291 strokes on Friday for a 72-hole total of 1,167.
Freshman Jennie Lee led the way with a 71, and finished second in the individual race at even-par 288. She was followed by defending medalist Grzebien and Jennifer Pandolfi (each with a 73) and Blumenherst with a 74. Liz Janangelo shot a 76.
Pepperdine finished third with 1,187 strokes, followed by Arizona State (1,195) and California (1,200).
'Duke is raising everybody up to their level,' Arizona State coach Melissa Luellen said. 'That's what our goal is, to get to their level.'
The round was suspended 56 minutes early in the afternoon because of lightning and heavy rain. The players continued through several brief showers and swirling wind late in the day.
'We were just really solid,' Brooks said. 'That's as textbook of a tournament as you could hope for.'
Schreefel, a sophomore from The Netherlands, started the day three shots back of Pepperdine's Eileen Vargas, who had led after each of the first three rounds.
Vargas' hopes faded as she bogeyed four holes in a row to close out the front nine, with Schreefel taking command by making a 20-foot birdie putt at the 14th and then hitting a wedge to 6 feet for another birdie at the 15th.
'Playing with Eileen, I knew what she was doing,' Schreefel said. 'I knew when I was even or 1-under that I was doing well, although I didn't know about anyone else. When I made the birdies at 14 and 15, I thought, 'Let's go. Maybe I've got it.''
Her 69 followed rounds of 73, 74 and 70 for a total of 2-under 286. She was the only player in the field to break par.
UNLV's Da Sol Chung (72) was four shots behind Schreefel, while Vargas closed with a 77 to tie for fourth with Florida's Sandra Gal (74) at 291.
'I didn't hit my driver well,' Vargas said. 'The difference was my putter. I didn't make putts like I did the last three days.'
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.