Duke maintained its mastery over Virginia in women’s basketball, but not without experiencing a scare.
The eighth-seeded Blue Devils withstood two shots for the lead by the Cavaliers in the final minute and held on for a 57-53 victory over ninth-seeded UVa on Thursday in the second round of the ACC women’s basketball tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
Duke (20-11), trying to play its way off the bubble for the NCAA tournament, will take on top-seeded and second-ranked Notre Dame (28-1) at 2 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals.
Oderah Chidom, a 6-foot-4 junior, tied a career high with 20 points, including two clinching free throws with 4.3 seconds left, and Azura Stevens returned to action to add 14 points and 15 rebounds.
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The 6-6 Stevens was back in the lineup after missing Duke’s last seven games with a partial tear of the plantar fascia in her left foot. Duke was 3-4 without the sophomore and was 16-7 prior to her injury. Her return helped offset the loss of redshirt sophomore wing Rebecca Greenwell, who didn’t play because of a chronic back injury.
“You talk about matchups in the league and who you match up well against,” Boyle said. “One of the problems we always have with Duke is their size.”
Thursday was no exception. Duke enjoyed a whopping 49-32 advantage on the boards, with Chidom pulling down nine and guard Kyra Lambert grabbing seven. The Blue Devils had a season-high 24 offensive rebounds, worth 21 second-chance points. In fact, Duke picked off more of its misses than did UVa, which managed only 17 defensive rebounds.
Duke couldn’t shake UVa, though. The Cavaliers stayed close with 3-point shooting, where they were 8-of-19. Aliyah Huland El led the way with 16 points, including 3-of-5 behind the arc. Lauren Moses and Faith Randolph added 11 points each.
The Blue Devils by comparison couldn’t buy a jump shot. They were a combined 1-of-15 from 3-point range, and point guard Angela Salvadores missed all seven of her long-range tries.
“I think we rushed a bit,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “I’ve seen Angela bury every shot she took today. We were trying to do too many things today. I mean, Faith (Suggs) took three threes today. She doesn’t need to do that. She needs to attack more. It was a good lesson for us.”
McCallie said the Blue Devils can’t afford the same lapses against Notre Dame, which beat Duke 68-61 in Durham on Feb. 1.
“We need to keep the tempo slowed down, and more so if Becca can’t play and is out,” McCallie said.
“We were up by five against (Notre Dame) late in the game and made some poor decisions, and there was a little bit of a run that we gave, so it’s really important that we control the tempo (and) obviously contest 3-point shooters much better than today. Today was horrible.”
UVa took its first lead of the second half on the first of back-to-back 3-pointers by J’Kyra Brown, a transfer from East Carolina, the latter with 2:43 left for a 53-50 lead. But Salvadores made two free throws for Duke, and so did Lambert after Moses missed two for UVa.
Trailing 54-53, UVa point guard Mikayla Venson drove the lane, but her miss was rebounded by Stevens. This time Salvadores converted only one free throw, and UVa had 17 seconds left to devise a play trailing by two points.
Venson ended up with the ball in the left corner, and her miss was converted by Huland El, but Huland El was called for her fifth foul on the rebound. Chidom made both free throws with 4.3 seconds left for the final margin.
Not surprisingly, both coaches had a different take on the play.
“Oderah was behind, boxing out,” McCallie said. “Kyra also had great position. People were careering for the ball over the back. Obviously Oderah did the right thing. You could see it on the film. And the official called it way early.”
“I thought it was clean,” UVa coach Joanne Boyle said. “I didn’t see anything. That’s the point. It’s been a battle all game, people have been pushing and shoving. That’s just me.”
Boyle might have felt more regrets over the Cavaliers’ faulty free throw shooting. They lead the ACC and rank 15th nationally at 76.2 percent but made only 3 of 10 Thursday. Moses, a 56 percent free throw shooter, was 1-of-6.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever shot 30 percent from the line,” Boyle said. “I don’t think it’s happened this year. It’s one of those stat lines you wish you could have back.”
This was Virginia’s (16-15) 24th straight loss to Duke since a 61-49 victory in Charlottesville on Jan. 30, 2000. The Blue Devils also denied Boyle her first win over her alma mater. Boyle played at Duke from 1982-85 for former coach Debbie Leonard. She later served as an assistant coach from 1993-2002 under Gail Goestenkors.