The No. 14 North Carolina women’s basketball team slid by No. 7 Duke 64-60 Sunday afternoon at Carmichael Arena, earning the season sweep of the Blue Devils to improve to 22-8 overall and 10-6 in conference play.
With the loss, the Blue Devils dropped to 25-5 on the season and 12-4 in the ACC. Sunday marked the first time Duke was swept by UNC since the 2007-08 season.
“For Duke, I want to wish them the best of luck. I know they’re down a couple players, but they’re still very talented and very well coached. They’ll find a way. They’re champions and that’s why they fought back today. […] As far as the Tar Heels, I thought we played very hard. I thought we did a lot of good things. We didn’t make some shots I thought we should have made, but it was one of our best games this year and really proud of the players,” Associate Head Coach Andrew Calder says.
With Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell looking on from the stands, the Tar Heels played to a quick tempo that the Blue Devils struggled to keep up with for much of the contest.
Allisha Gray came out of the locker rooms a new person in the second half, knocking down three quick three-pointers to give Carolina the commanding 47-31 lead, going on a 14-0 run.
But the Blue Devils went on a 16-0 run of their own to cut the deficit down to three points at 50-47 with 6:35 to play in the game. The momentum had swung completely in Duke’s favor.
But determined makes by Stephanie Mavunga in the paint staved off the Blue Devil attack and allowed the Tar Heels to put away the game down the stretch. One of the key factors to deciding the game was rebounding. The Tar Heels were crucially able to outrebound a much taller Blue Devil squad 35-33.
Diamond DeShields led the Tar Heels with 18 points while Mavunga and Gray added 12 points apiece. With her scoring Sunday, DeShields became the first UNC freshman to score 500 points in a season.
Duke’s Tricia Liston posted a team-leading 19 points while Elizabeth Williams put up 12 points of her own, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a series sweep for Carolina.
Before the game, Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell told ESPN she would be ready to get back out on the court as soon as she gets done with her final round of treatments this week. That leaves open the possibility of a return for the NCAA Tournament.
Duke won the opening tipoff an Tricia Liston made a long range three-pointer to raw first blood on the first possession of the game.
Elizabeth Williams scored inside following an unsuccessful Carolina possession to give the Blue Devils a 5-0 lead with 18:08 to play in the half.
Haley Peters knocked down a jumper to extend the lead out to 7-0 for Duke, but DeShields swished a three-point shot to get the Tar Heels on the board.
Williams found some space around the basket and banked the ball in to give the Blue Devils the 11-3 advantage with 15:41 to play.
Stephanie Mavunga got one to go to close the gap down to eight points at 13-5. The Latifah Coleman nailed a three-pointer to ignite crowd. With 14:20 to play in the half, Carolina was trailing 13-8.
Liston ran the floor for an easy score off a Carolina turnover. The lead was back out to 17-10 for the Blue Devils with 12:38 on the first half clock.
DeShields broke away next for a layup basket. An official timeout with 11:37 to go in the half had Duke leading 17-12.
Jessica Washington knocked down an uncontested shot from behind the arc and a breakaway score by Butts reduced the deficit down to just two points at 19-17.
Mavunga was becoming more and more active in the paint, forcing the ball through the nets. The score was 22-19 in favor of Duke with 8:11 to play in the half.
Xylina McDaniel calmly tied the game with a shot outside that knotted the score at 22-22. McDaniel scored again inside to give Carolina its first lead of the contest at 24-22 with 6:08 to play in the opening half.
DeShields was fouled on a shot and connected on both of her free throws to stake the Tar Heels out to a 26-22 lead with 4:58 remaining before halftime.
Washington got the line next, knocking down both free throws to extend the UNC advantage out to 28-22. Duke scored quickly on the other end, but Mavunga responded with a make inside.
After a three-pointer by Peters, Duke had closed the margin down to just one point. The Tar Heels had the 30-29 lead with 2:30 left in the half.
McDaniel made a nice move and reverse to get a clutch shot to fall, giving UNC the 32-31 edge with 59 seconds to go before halftime.
DeShields scored a high-flying layup on the run to push the Tar Heels ahead 34-31, and at the half, it was Carolina with the 36-31 advantage.
Gray knocked down a three-pointer to start the proceedings in the second half. UNC had the 39-31 lead with 19:20 left in the game. Gray responded again with a long-range jumper from the perimeter to give Carolina the 42-31 advantage with 18:40 to play.
Gray just could not be stopped as she knocked down shot after shot to create an explosion in Carmichael Arena. She hit another long-range shot to give Carolina the 47-31 lead with 16:59 to play.
Peters battled her way to the foul line at the 12:38 mark, making both attempts to rally Duke back to within 13 points at 50-37. The Blue Devils were on a 12-0 run to cut the deficit down to nine points at 50-41 with 9:33 to play in the game.
It was a five point game after another Duke score inside. Carolina couldn’t come up with any rebounds as Duke began to gobble up the board. The score was 50-47 with 7:16 to play in the game.
Washington broke the Duke momentum swing with a run-out score that placed the score at 52-49 with under six minutes to go.
McDaniel got herself to the line and knocked down one free throw. But the shots were not falling from the field for Carolina as the clock was winding down.
Ka’ lia Johnson scored and got the foul, making the point after to close within one at 53-52 with 3:57 to play.
Mavunga responded with an inside score for the Tar Heels and with 3:31 to play, UNC had the 55-52 edge. Gray remerged with a three-point conversion that got the crowd roaring and gave Carolina the 60-52 with 1:58 to play.
DeShields drained a clutch jumper as the shot clock was expiring to give UNC the comfortable 62-53 lead they needed to hold on to the victory.
Next up for the Tar Heels is the ACC Tournament in Greensboro later this week. UNC will play Thursday at 8 p.m. against the winner of the Wake-Forest-Pittsburgh game.
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