No. 17 North Carolina 89, No. 3 Duke 78

No. 17 North Carolina women upset No. 3 Duke 89-78

CorrespondentFebruary 10, 2014 

— North Carolina’s highly touted freshman class just didn’t seem to know it wasn’t supposed to win in its first trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium.

But the Tar Heels did just that Monday night, and they made it look convincing.

Freshman Diamond DeShields had a season-high 30 points and classmate Allisha Gray added 24 points and 10 rebounds as No. 17 UNC shocked No. 3 Duke 89-78 in ACC women’s basketball.

Duke’s Elizabeth Williams had a career-high 28 points while Tricia Liston chipped in 20.

The win improved UNC, which snapped a three-game losing streak, to 18-6 overall and 6-4 in the ACC. Duke (22-3, 9-2) has dropped all three of its losses this season at home.

North Carolina never trailed in its first win in Cameron since 2008. The result snapped Duke’s seven-game winning streak in the series, which UNC leads 48-39.

Xylina McDaniel added 17 points for UNC.

The Tar Heels, with veteran assistant Andrew Calder directing from the sidelines as coach Sylvia Hatchell undergoes treatment for leukemia, were clearly ready to play despite their recent woes.

“I want to thank (Hatchell) again for giving us a tremendous motivational speech, and (UNC women’s soccer) Coach Anson Dorrance who spoke to the team yesterday,” Calder said. “Duke is a very talented basketball team and very well-coached. The Tar Heels worked extremely hard the last few days. We went after them and they responded.”

Alexis Jones had 15 points and 10 assists for Duke.

“Giving up 89 points at home is really bad,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “Defense is something that this team generally wants other people to do. We don’t get into defense. We’re playing defense to get the ball back on offense, and with the exception of Elizabeth Williams and her blocked shots that are intimidating, we’re not taking charges … Our transition defense has been awful.”

North Carolina shot 51.5 percent, // compared with 42.3 percent for the Blue Devils. The Tar Heels won the rebound battle 40-39 and committed 23 turnovers to 20 for Duke.

UNC led 45-36 at halftime, leading by as many as 12 points twice during the stanza. DeShields had 15 points to lead UNC at the break while McDaniel had 12.

“Cameron is just historically a tough place to play in, and I didn’t expect any less tonight,” DeShields said. “What I didn’t expect was that I didn’t really care and it didn’t bother me one bit. I’m proud of my teammates for having that mental toughness (because) it didn’t seem to bother them either.”

Williams’ 16 paced Duke at intermission.

“We didn’t do a good job taking care of the ball offensively,” Williams said. “Overall, I think (what mattered) was more our mistakes, in terms of not taking care of the ball, than what they changed defensively.”

UNC took a 10-2 lead on a DeShields jumper with 18:07 left in the half, and Duke wasn’t closer than four back for the rest of the period.

Following McDaniel’s 3-pointer with 19:49 to play Duke went on an 11-0 run, cutting the margin to 48-47 on a short Liston jumper with 17:02 to go.

But the Tar Heels responded with an 8-0 run – including a three-point play from Gray and a 3-pointer from Latifah Coleman – to get their working margin back.

“You’ve just got to play your game,” Gray said. “Like Coach Calder says, when you get on the court it’s just you, 94 feet, a 10-foot rim and (imaginary) glass around the court. Basically, it’s just you and your teammates.”

Duke trimmed the advantage to 63-61 on a pair of Liston free throws at 8:13, but the Tar Heels responded with a 3-pointer from DeShields and another three-point play from Gray. And Duke could get no closer down the stretch.

“I don’t know if (never leading) should affect us,” Liston said. “You should be able to have the same defensive focus and energy for 40 minutes or however long you’re on the court. … This doesn’t feel good.”

Duke senior guard Chloe Wells missed her sixth straight game with a bruised shin. McCallie said the Apex alumna is out indefinitely.

North Carolina hosts new ACC member Pittsburgh on Thursday night. Duke’s next game will be at home Feb. 17 against Maryland.

The rematch is March 2 at UNC’s Carmichael Arena in the teams’ traditional regular-season finale.

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