CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM It’s one more battle to see which blue-clad women’s basketball team is the best in the Triangle – at least for one night.
And both homestanding No. 8 Duke (18-4, 6-1 ACC) and visiting No. 18 UNC (16-5, 4-3) are in a bit of a bad mood.
The Blue Devils’ chances to run the table in the ACC ended on Thursday, when they got slapped in the face with a 61-57 loss at up-and-down Boston College.
Meanwhile the Tar Heels, who once upon a time were favored to win the conference’s regular-season title, have lost two straight including an 80-69 defeat on Thursday night at Miami that may have made the Hurricanes’ season. We’ll see.
It’s the first time they’ve played each other this millennium when both were coming off a loss.
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie lost her first six meetings with UNC before the Blue Devils won 81-79 last March 1 on Senior Day at Cameron.
The cameras are in the house for ESPN2’s Big Monday. And Duke gives them a show, putting six players in double figures in a 79-51 rout.
It’s the biggest over UNC in seven seasons, since a 97-63 result on Feb. 20, 2003.
It’s not a sellout, but 6,902 fans including several hundred in Carolina Blue make for quite a noise atmosphere.
Duke takes over with a 10-0 start and never leads by fewer than seven points after the opening minutes.
The Blue Devils lead 42-33 at halftime, and 55-43 after the Tar Heels’ Laura Broomfield hits a jumper with 11:33 to go. But a 17-4 run ending in a Shay Selby jumper with 4:07 to go makes it 72-47.
Duke has the ultimate balanced scoring effort, with six players in double figures and nobody with more than 12. Senior Keturah Jackson ties her career high with 12 points, and Bridgette Mitchell also knocks in a dozen. Krystal Thomas adds 11 points. Jasmine Thomas, Selby with a season high and freshman Allison Vernerey in her first start chip in 10 each.
Broomfield and She’la White score 10 each for UNC, Broomfield getting her points before fouling out with 3:53 to go.
Duke shoots 42.3 percent for the game after 51.5 in the first half, while the Tar Heels shoot 35.2. The Blue Devils win the board battle 52-28 including 25 on the offensive end, and commit 19 turnovers to UNC’s 25.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “I’m very proud of my team – our fight, our effort, our hustle. We faced some adversity early on with Jas (Thomas) and Joy (Cheek) getting in foul trouble and sitting most of the first half. I was really pleased to see just incredible leadership by (Jackson). She played a whole lot of minutes, first of all, and had to make the most of them and had to do a lot of work handling the basketball. Allison was very strong for us and very aggressive, especially early. She got us off to a great start and played very physical. Shay plays with a great deal of confidence and came off the bench and gave us a huge lift, looking for her shot and looking for her minutes.”
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell: “The thing I was most disappointed about was rebounding. At halftime it was 17-16 and in the second half they out-rebounded us 35-12 so I thought that was a big key. To start the second half on one possession they got five or six rebounds on one trip down the floor so that was big. I knew rebounding would be big, and taking care of the basketball. We’ve got to get Italee Lucas and Cetera DeGraffenreid playing better, or they’re going to have to go to the bench. Bottom line is that those two are our veteran players, and Cetera was 0-for-8 and Italee was 2-for-8. Those two players have to play better. … It’s not like we don’t have experienced guards. They’re just making poor decisions.”
Jackson: “I thought about (a final career chance to play UNC at home) once before the game, and Joy (Cheek) also mentioned that to me before the game, but I just wanted to be a leader for my team and help us to bounce back from our loss to (BC). I just felt comfortable in the flow of the game and just let it come to me.”
Selby: “I was just playing within the game, letting it come to me. I had the open shot so I took it. I wasn’t trying to force anything. I’ve been struggling in practice and in games with my shooting.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke is in very good shape in its quest for an ACC regular-season title. And that the Tar Heels are going to have to start winning soon to avoid getting onto the NCAA bubble.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Jackson’s 3-pointer from the left corner on a cross-court pass from Karima Christmas that made it 16-4 with 13:54 left in the first half.
UNC leads 45-32.
Duke: Won 1.
UNC: Lost 3.
Duke vs. N.C. State, Thursday, 7 p.m.
Boston College at UNC, Thursday, 7 p.m.