NO. 13 UNC WIN IN ACC QUARTERFINALS OVER NO. 8 MARYLAND SETS UP 3RD SHOWDOWN WITH NO. 10 DUKE
Diamond DeShields scored 22 points while fellow freshman Allisha Gray added 17 to help No. 13 North Carolina beat No. 8 Maryland 73-70 in Friday's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinals.
Xylina McDaniel added 10 points for the sixth-seeded Tar Heels (24-8), who led all but 5 seconds but still had to fight to put away the Big Ten-bound Terrapins in what turned out to be their final ACC game.
Three-time ACC player of the year Alyssa Thomas scored 24 points and set the career scoring record for third-seeded Maryland (24-6), who erased nearly all of a nine-point deficit in the final 5½ minutes.
But Thomas couldn't quite lead the Terps all the way back, committing a turnover while going for the go-ahead shot in the final minute then missing a 3-pointer for the tie with about 10 seconds left.
UNC advanced to Saturday's semifinals to play No. 10 Duke Saturday, March 8 (7:30 p.m., ESPNU).
There are plenty of reasons for optimism — and concern — on both sides as UNC plays at Duke today (9 p.m., ESPN) in the regular-season finale for both teams.
Elizabeth Williams scored 15 points and blocked five shots, and No. 10 Duke claimed its 37th straight win over Georgia Tech with an 82-52 victory Friday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinals.
Duke didn’t take time to review film from Wednesday night’s disheartening loss at Wake Forest. That’s part of the moving-on process, sophomore forward and team captain Rodney Hood said Friday on the eve of the Blue Devils' home meeting withrival UNC (9 p.m., ESPN).
UNC COMES BACK TO ELIMINATE WAKE IN 2ND ROUND OF ACC WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT
Freshman Diamond DeShields scored eight points in the final 2:18 to help No. 13 North Carolina pull out a 69-65 victory over Wake Forest in Thursday’s nightcap of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum.
DeShields, the only player in double figures for the Tar Heels (23-8), finished with 17 points. Sixth-seeded UNC will face No. 3-seed Maryland today at 8 p.m. (Fox Sports Carolinas) in the tournament quarterfinals.
“DeShields wants that big shot; she’ll tell you that,” UNC associate head coach Andrew Calder said. “Here’s the bottom line, ... DeShields has made big shots in games that we’ve needed. You’re going to give her the ball at the end, out of loyalty to her, that she’s going to get the job done.
“She wants to be in that moment, and we want her in that moment. ... She wants the ball in her hands.”
North Carolina held its first spring practice Wednesday, hoping to keep the momentum from last season’s 6-1 finish that including a Belk Bowl win over Cincinnati.
UNC (22-8, 10-6) enters the ACC Tournament Thursday, March 6 with a No. 13 national ranking in the AP poll but only a No. 6 seed in the ACC and will face an incredibly difficult task if they hope to win their first ACC title since 2008.
Guards Kayla McBride and Jewell Loyd represent the unbeaten Fighting Irish (29-0) on the first team. Duke had center Elizabeth Williams and guard Tricia Liston. They were joined by North Carolina guard Diamond DeShields, N.C. State’s Markeisha Gatling, Wake Forest’s Dearica Hamby, Georgia Tech’s Tyaunna Marshall, Florida State’s Natasha Howard and Maryland’s Alyssa Thomas.
None of the top teams will be playing in Wednesday’s opening round which pits No. 13 seed Clemson vs. No. 12 Virginia Tech (1 p.m., Fox Sports Carolinas), No. 15 Boston College vs. No. No. 10 Virginia (3:30 p.m., FSC) and No. 14 Pittsburgh vs. No. 11 Wake Forest (6:30 p.m., FSC). UNC opens play Thursday, Duke has a double-bye and opens on Friday.
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North Carolina fans may recall some memorable performances by seniors in their final home game. There was Phil Ford scoring 34 against Duke to clinch the ACC regular-season title in ’78 and Matt Doherty hitting a runner at the end of regulation to help preserve a perfect ACC record in ’84. More recently, Tyler Zeller made 21 of 24 free throws and posted 30 points two years ago.
NO. 19 ESCAPES POTENTIAL 'TRAP' GAME, EKES OUT 4-POINT WIN AT VIRGINIA TECH
After exhilarating rivalry wins against Duke and N.C. State sandwiched around a 105-point outburst against Wake Forest, No. 19 North Carolina may have been due for an ugly performance.
The Tar Heels had one on Saturday against Virginia Tech (9-19, 2-14 ACC) but in a sign of how far this team has come, it didn’t stop UNC from extending its winning streak to 11 games.
The Tar Heels (22-7, 12-4 ACC) struggled against the Hokies’ slow-down pace and 2-3 zone but still came away with a 60-56 win at Cassell Coliseum.
“Obviously we’re not super pleased with the way we played,” sophomore point guard Marcus Paige said. “But at this stage of the season, when you’re on the road, you’ll take whatever you can get.”
The win ensures that after a 1-4 start in the league, UNC will be a top-four seed in the ACC Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum and will get a bye into Friday’s quarterfinals.