North Carolina freshman Diamond DeShields took the “airball” chants in stride when her first shot at Cameron Indoor Stadium went awry. When she needed to inbound the ball in front of the Cameron Crazies, she pretended to yawn.
The frenzied atmosphere — not to mention playing one of the top teams in the country — has gotten the best of many young players over the years. But it didn’t seem to affect DeShields or her young teammates.
The nation’s top-rated freshman scored a career-high 30 points as No. 17 UNC upset No. 3 Duke 89-78 Monday. Fellow freshman Allisha Gray added 24 as the Tar Heels, who have four freshmen in their nine-player rotation, ended a seven-game losing streak against the Blue Devils and won in Cameron for the first time since 2008.
“Cameron is historically a tough place to play in so I didn’t expect any less tonight,” said DeShields, the son of former Major Leaguer Delino DeShields. “But what I was surprised at was at the fact that I didn’t really care, and it didn’t bother me one bit. And I’m proud of myself for having that mental toughness, and it didn’t seem to bother the rest of the team either.”
Sophomore Xylina McDaniel added 17 points as the Tar Heels (18-6, 6-4 ACC) never trailed against the Blue Devils, who had won 46 straight conference games at home before losing to No. 2 Notre Dame last weekend.
“I thought (my first airball) was hilarious because I knew (the fans) were going to tear me up,” DeShields said. “But like I said, it’s part of the experience. I’ll never forget this. I’m so happy I got a chance to play here and do it with my teammates, and win here.”
Senior Elizabeth Williams scored a career-high 28 points, Tricia Liston had 20 points and Alexis Jones had 15 points and 11 assists for the Blue Devils (22-3, 9-2). But Duke lost back-to-back home games for the first time in 20 years because of its defense. After allowing 88 points against Notre Dame, the Blue Devils gave up a season-high 89 to UNC, which shot 51.5 percent and scored 28 points off 23 turnovers.
“For us, giving up 89 points at home was… very bad,” Blue Devils coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
After starting 20-3 and reaching No. 6 in the AP rankings, the Tar Heels had lost three in a row by a combined 11 points heading into Monday night. Acting head coach Andrew Calder said the team heard motivational speeches leading up to the game from UNC women’s soccer coach Anson Dorrance and UNC head coach Sylvia Hatchell, who has stepped aside temporarily as she undergoes leukemia treatments for leukemia.
“Losses can be just that, or they can be learning experiences,” DeShields said. “We bounced back and we learned from every one of those losses. So I’m thankful for those losses at this point. …It lit a fire under us.”
The Tar Heels scored on five of their first six possessions and jumped out to a 10-2 lead. Duke cut it to 21-20, but UNC hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions to extend the lead and was up nine at the break.
After McDaniel hit a 3 to start the second half, Duke scored 11 straight points to make it 48-47, but UNC responded with eight straight points to stay ahead.
The Blue Devils made one final charge, getting the deficit to 63-61 with eight minutes left. But DeShields knocked down a 3 and Gray converted one of her three second-half 3-point plays, and Duke went almost six minutes without a field goal as the Tar Heels took control once again.
DeShields became the first player to score 30 points against Duke since December 2009. Meanwhile, Gray scored 19 of her 24 points in the second half, leading McCallie to call her “the difference maker in the game.”
“Winning here is not easy and winning here is not common,” DeShields said. “And to be a part of that group of winners who come in here, face the crowd, face a great Duke team, and be able to win, that’s a part of history so I’m proud to be a part of it.”
|No. 17 UNC 89, No. 3 DUKE 78|
Percentages: FG .515, FT .875.
3-Point Goals: 12-29, .414 (DeShields 5-11, McDaniel 3-3, Gray 2-7, Washington 1-1, Coleman 1-4, Rountree 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 7.
Blocked Shots: 6 (Mavunga 3, DeShields 2, Gray).
Turnovers: 23 (Gray 5, McDaniel 4, Mavunga 4, Coleman 3, DeShields 2, Butts 2, Washington, Rountree).
Steals: 10 (Coleman 3, McDaniel 3, DeShields, Mavunga, Gray, Butts).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .423, FT .706.
3-Point Goals: 6-12, .500 (Liston 4-9, Jones 1-1, Jackson 1-2).
Team Rebounds: 8.
Blocked Shots: 7 (Williams 5, Chidom 2).
Turnovers: 20 (Jones 5, Liston 4, Williams 4, Peters 3, Jackson 2, Chidom 2).
Steals: 11 (Jones 3, Jackson 3, Peters 2, Williams 2, Chidom).
Technical Fouls: None.
Officials_Dee Kantner, Ed Sidlasky, Susan Blauch.