3rd time is charm as No. 2 Duke women snap 2-game skid to No. 13UNC
North Carolina is known for its flamboyant freshmen. Duke is the veteran team decimated by injuries but bolstered on the front line by freshmen off the bench.
That formula gave No. 2-seeded Duke a 66-61 victory over the Tar Heels in the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament semifinals, as freshman forward Oderah Chidom sank four straight free throws in the final 17.5 seconds to end UNC’s two-game win streak over the Blue Devils.
Duke (27-5) will face Notre Dame (31-0), which is in its first season in the ACC, for the tournament title today at the Greensboro Coliseum (7 p.m., ESPN).
“Well, (Oderah) is a funny character,” Duke senior Haley Peters said. “She really doesn’t get phased by a lot. ... She’s confident in herself, and she just went up there an hit four free throws in a row and really won the game at the end.
“So that’s who she is. She’s kind of very composed. She doesn’t get high; she doesn’t get low. She just plays and plays hard.”
Even after Chidom’s first two free throws gave Duke a 64-63 lead, UNC All-ACC freshman Diamond DeShields had a shot to give the Tar Heels the lead with her 14th shot from outside the arc. But the ball rimmed out, and Latifah Coleman fouled Chidom after the rebound, and her final two free throws sealed the win.
“I thought it was going in,” said DeShields, who had a game-high 25 points. “I wanted it; I wanted the ball. Actually, I knew it was going in — it came in and came out.
“So I was confident in my shot when I took that one. But you know, things happen. I’m all right with it. I’ll just work harder and be ready for the next game.”
Tricia Liston led Duke with 17 points including 4-of-5 shooting from outside the arc, while Elizabeth Williams added 12 points and Richa Jackson had 11.
Fellow UNC freshmen Allisha Gray added 14 and Stephanie Mavunga had 13.
“North Carolina is a very, very good team,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. “We didn’t really do much to stop their primary go-to’s, but we worked hard to; we tried to.
“Out-rebounding them (44-37) was very important for us. That’s something that we need to get going on.”
For UNC, the 3-point line was their happy place at the start of the second half while Duke struggled to get going offensively.
Gray opened the second half with a 3-pointer, then DeShields connected on three in a row outside the arc for a 43-35 lead.
Liston’s second 3-pointer of the game cut the margin to 43-42 with 14:18 left, went on a 9-4 run through the 8:08 mark.
That’s when DeShields stepped back and swished her fifth 3-pointer of the game for a 52-46 lead, but she immediately was whistled for a technical foul after taunting Duke players.
“She’s an emotional player; she plays off her emotions,” UNC associate head coach Andrew Calder said. “She’s won us a lot of games, so I’m going to live with it. ... She knows the situation. She knows what happens — she’s OK.”
Liston made both free throws, but Ka’lia Jackson turned the ball over on a travel with UNC ahead 54-48.
A 3-pointer by Duke’s Ka’lia Johnson tied the score at 55 with 4:58 left, but UNC built the lead to four points on a 15-footer by DeShields with 3:59 left.
Liston hit a 3-pointer with 2:02 remaining to pull to within a point, and after a free throw Xylina McDaniel, Williams’ putback of a miss by Haley Peters tied the score at 60 with 1:18 on the clock.
Johnson was fouled by Mavunga on a rebound with 44.1 seconds left, and she sank both free throws to put Duke ahead to stay.
“It’s great, especially after the first two games we had against them this year,” Liston said. “I definitely would like to end my career beating Carolina and not ending in a loss. But coming into the ACC Tournament, there’s motivation there — we wanted to come back and defend our ... title.”
Duke scored the first eight points of the game, with Peters dropping a 3-pointer to start the surge and Liston added five points.
That was the biggest margin of the half, and the Blue Devils stayed ahead until DeShields tied the score at 28-28 with a 15-foot jumper with 1:35 left.
Johnson drove inside to put the Blue Devils ahead again, but Liston became the third straight Duke player to make only 1 of 2 free throws in the final 2:18 of the half when her first rimmed out after being fouled by DeShields with 23.1 seconds left.
Mavunga made a putback and was fouled by Kendall McCravey-Cooper with 1.2 seconds remaining, and her free throw evened the score at 31 heading into halftime.
Gray led all scorers with 11 points in the first half, while Liston paced Duke with nine. The Blue Devils struggled at the free throw line, connecting on 7 of 13 (53.8 percent), while the Tar Heels made all three of their attempts.
Duke committed 10 turnovers, which led to seven points for UNC. The Tar Heels had just four turnovers in the first 20 minutes. Duke held a 24-19 rebounding advantage, which helped the Blue Devils outscore UNC 16-6 in the paint.
NOTES — UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell missed the game after beginning a round of treatment for leukemia on Friday. ... Duke point guards Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones watched from the bench after suffering season-ending knee injuries. ... Former UNC All-American Marion Jones and former Duke star Michele Van Gorp were honored as Legends of the ACC during halftime of Saturday’s first semifinal between N.C. State and Notre Dame. Van Gorp is in her first year as Duke’s director of women’s basketball recruiting operations. ...
|No. 10 DUKE 66, No. 13 NORTH CAROLINA 61|
Percentages: FG .338, FT .615.
3-Point Goals: 9-30, .300 (DeShields 5-14, Gray 4-8, Rountree 0-1, Coleman 0-1, McDaniel 0-1, Washington 0-5).
Team Rebounds: 1.
Blocked Shots: 4 (Gray 2, Butts, Mavunga).
Turnovers: 10 (Mavunga 3, Gray 2, Coleman 2, DeShields, Rountree, McDaniel).
Steals: 4 (DeShields 2, Coleman, McDaniel).
Technical Fouls: DeShields.
Percentages: FG .431, FT .680.
3-Point Goals: 5-15, .333 (Liston 3-7, Johnson 1-3, Peters 1-4, Jackson 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 6.
Blocked Shots: 4 (Williams 3, Chidom).
Turnovers: 17 (Williams 4, Liston 3, Peters 3, Johnson 3, Jackson 2, Henson 2).
Steals: 5 (Jackson, Peters, Chidom, Johnson, Williams).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Bryan Brunette, Ed Sidlasky, Carla Fountain.