With the victory, Carolina improved to 18-6 on the season and 6-4 in conference play. With the loss, the Blue Devils dropped to 22-3 on the season and 9-2 in the ACC.
Carolina shot out to a quick 6-2 lead and never gave up the advantage the remainder of the night despite the late runs by Duke to close within four points in the second half.
Freshman sensation DeShields simply would not be denied on this night, putting up a career best 30 points and delivering an inspired and determined effort to lead the scrappy Tar Heels to the victory.
“Cameron is just, historically, a tough place to play, so I didn’t expect any less tonight,” DeShields says. “What I was surprised at (was), I didn’t really care. It didn’t bother me one bit. I’m proud of myself for having that mental toughness. … I shot an airball and laughed it off.”
After the game, DeShields, Allisha Gray, who posted 24 points of her own, and Associate Head Coach Andrew Calder credited inspirational speeches by both Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell and UNC Women’s Soccer Coach Anson Dorrance on Sunday for giving the team the edge they needed to pull off the upset.
“In the end, the players did it. They said, `We’re going to make a statement and we’re going to make a statement tonight,” Calder says.
Duke’s Elizabeth Williams had an impressive showing with 28 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Tar Heels on the night.
Carolina snapped a seven-game losing streak to Duke and claimed its first win since 2008 at Cameron.
Allisha Gray scored the game’s first points with a long three-point jumper to give the Tar Heels the quick 3-0 lead.
Duke responded with a make on the other end to close the gap down to 3-2 before Carolina drained another three-pointer to grab the 6-2 lead.
The Tar Heels were playing inspiring defense and making things difficult on the Blue Devils early on. Meanwhile the offense was clicking, spurting out to a 12-6 lead in a game played at a quick pace.
Gray dumped inside for another athletic score to extend the Carolina lead out to 16-10 with 15:55 remaining in the first half.
In a troubling development for the Tar Heels, DeShields picked up a second foul less than five minutes into the contest. The Blue Devils’ Oderah Chidom fought her way to the basket and a foul at the 15:00 mark to close the Carolina lead down to four points at 16-12.
Jessica Washington nailed a three-pointer to move the Tar Heels to the 19-16 advantage, and Danielle Butts muscled in for a score to give UNC the 21-16 lead with 11:58 to play in the half.
Alexis Jones coaxed in a layup to ignite the Blue Devil crowd. The lead was down to one point for the Tar Heels at the 9:50 mark.
Xylina McDaniel rammed in a three-pointer to extend UNC’s lead out to 26-21 with 8:30 to go in the first half. But the Blue Devils answered right back.
DeShields was inserted back into the game after some time on the bench due to foul trouble. She wasted no time making an impact with a score. The Tar Heels led 29-23 with 7:49 remaining in the half.
DeShields started to take the game over, hitting shot after shot to give UNC a strong 34-23 lead with under seven minutes left in the half.
The offenses on both sides were taking off, finding ways to the basket, identifying holes in the defenses. With 3:50 remaining in the first half, the Tar Heels held a 41-31 advantage.
Latifah Coleman got on the scoreboard with some points of her own to push UNC’s lead out to a dozen with under three minutes remaining in the half.
Tricia Liston knocked down a three-pointer as the clock was winding down on the first half. The Tar Heels claimed a 45-36 lead heading into the locker room.
At the half, Carolina was shooting 54.3 percent from the floor while Duke was shooting at a 43.6 percent clip.
Diamond DeShields was leading the Tar Heel charge with 15 points while Duke’s Elizabeth Williams was leading all scorers with 16 points.
Carolina got off to a positive start in the second half when Xylina McDaniel hit a three-pointer , but Duke answered the shot with a long-range three of their own to even things up.
Duke’s Richa Jackson made a two-point layup to reduce the arrears down to 5 points with 18:33 to play in the game and the scoreboard reading 48-43 in favor of the visiting Tar Heels.
The Cameron crowd erupted in a frenzy when the score was trimmed down to one at 48-47 with 16:25 to play in the contest.
DeShields broke through with a score inside to give UNC the 50-47 lead with 16:00 minutes remaining in the game.
Coleman drained a three-pointer to push the Tar Heel lead back out to nine points with 14:33 to play. Liston responded for Duke on the other end to keep the Blue Devils right there.
DeShields was to the rescue again for Carolina with a determined three-point make to give UNC the 59-50 lead with 11:58 to play in the game.
Jones fired in a three-pointer to place the score at 61-54 in favor of the Tar Heels, but Carolina answered with an aggressive play at the basket on the next possession.
UNC sent Jones to the line for three foul shots at the 9:17 mark after a bad foul. Jones converted on two of them to close the gap down to four points at 63-59.
DeShields popped a three-pointer at just the right time for the Tar Heels to give them some needed momentum. With 7:42 to play, UNC held the 68-61 lead.
Gray went coast-to-coast for a score and a foul to give the Tar Heels the 72-63 lead with 5:39 to go in the game.
Gray knocked down another huge shot, this time from behind the arc to extend the Tar Heel lead out to 75-64 with 4:30 to play.
Carolina scored on a physical second chance play to stake the Tar Heels out to an 81-72 lead with 2:36 to play in the game.
DeShields would not be denied on this night, forcing her way to another make inside to continue to pace the Tar Heels to the ten-point advantage that they would not relinquish.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a Thursday night meeting with Pittsburgh in Chapel Hill.