Women crush UNC, win No. 500

No last-second heroics required this time.

In its first game against a nationally-ranked opponent since vanquishing then-No. 1 UConn on a three-pointer at the buzzer nine days ago, top-ranked Duke (13-1, 4-0 in the ACC) exploded for a 26-4 run over the last 7:54 and out-kicked visiting conference rival No. 13 North Carolina (13-1, 3-1) by a score of 79-57 Sunday afternoon to capture the program's 500th victory before a boisterous crowd of 9,314 in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The win extends Duke's all-time record to a neat 500-300 and the team's record-setting ACC winning streak to 47 straight games.

"It was just a great game, great atmosphere," Duke head coach Gail Goestenkors said. "I thought the crowd really made the difference for us. Carolina made some runs, and our crowd really got into the game. I think it really lifted us up and helped us through.

"The score is certainly not indicative of the game, anyone who witnessed the game understands that. I was just really proud of my team. We weathered the storm, stayed together."

Alana Beard led the Blue Devils with 22 points, 15 coming in the second half, while teammates Mistie Bass had 18 on 5-of-7 shooting (8-of-12 free throws) and Monique Currie had her 11th career double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds.

Duke had given itself a double-digit halftime cushion but let the Tar Heels scrap their way back to 53-53 with a 21-10 spurt to open the second half. North Carolina would again tie it at 54-54 a minute later but would never get over the hump.

Goestenkors gathered her team during the official timeout with eight minutes left, and the Blue Devils responded, not allowing a North Carolina field goal the rest of the way.

"We got defensive stops," Beard said. "Anytime you want to go on a run, you have to get defensive stops. I think we stepped up our intensity and we just shut them down basically in those last minutes, and on the offensive end we did a great job of executing."

Sophomore Mistie Bass scored eight of her 18 during the ensuing 16-0 Duke run, as the Blue Devils pounded the ball inside offensively and limited the Tar Heels' dribble penetration defensively.

It was a physical game from start to finish, as both teams fought for rebounds and loose balls in the air and on the floor. Goestenkors said she was very pleased with team's rebounding effort, as the Blue Devils out rebounded North Carolina 50-40.

Currie, who was Duke's primary scoring threat in the first half when she netted all of her 14 points, grabbed 15 rebounds for the Blue Devils as she continues her comeback from a torn ACL last season.

The crowd, especially the energetic student section, seemed to feed off the action and vice versa, staying noisy all game, creating an atmosphere and pitch in Cameron usually only reached during men's games.

"They put bodies on you a lot," North Carolina head coach Slyvia Hatchell said. "They're big, and they put bodies on you. I thought the physical play maybe bothered us a bit. [Maybe we should] bring the in the football team to scrimmage against us, and that will help us for next time we play [Duke]."

North Carolina freshman point guard Ivory Latta the team with 17 points and three steals, but the Tar Heels hurt their chances for a comeback late in the second half with shot selection, shooting less than 28 percent from the field as their shots kept moving further and further away from the basket as the game wound down.

Despite her team's poor finish and 10-game losing streak to the Blue Devils, Hatchell said the experience was more than worthwhile.

"[Duke] is a great, great team," Hatchell said. "It's an honor and a privelge to play in a game like this. This is what as a coach and as players what you live for, playing games like this. Every No. 1 is going to lose sometime or another."


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