FINAL- No 8. Duke 79, No. 18 UNC 51

Duke 79, UNC 51 -- FINAL

The Blue Devils played nearly a perfect ballgame defensively, and Joanne P. McCallie must be exhilarated with the performance her players put on for all 40 minutes. A staunch Duke defense held UNC to just 18 second half points, and the Blue Devils, now 7-1 in the ACC,  have  a strong grasp on the No. 1 spot in the conference.

Duke 72- UNC 47, 3:53,

With just minutes remaining before Duke closes out one of its best victories of the year, the Blue Devils are still putting on a defensive showcase, jumping into passing lanes and putting immense pressure on Tar Heel shooters.  North Carolina has only managed to score 14 points this half.

Duke 65- UNC 47, 6:55,

UNC's night in a nutshell: Tar Heel reserve forward Cierra Roberston-Warren, under no real duress from the defense, let an entry pass slip through her hands and out of bounds.

Duke 62- UNC 47, 7:59,

Aside from the excellent defense, the Blue Devils have thoroughly beaten the Tar Heels on the boards in the second half, erasing any chance of a comeback at this point, and effectively neutralizing the opposing fans. Even though Duke has struggled to convert offensively, the Blue Devil forwards have been too much for UNC to handle down low.

Duke 59- UNC 43, 10:28,

Even with 10 minutes remaining, UNC doesn't look at all interested in winning this game. Duke has executed McCallie's gameplan for almost 30 minutes with no hiccups, and is playing with an intensity that the Tar Heels simply cannot counter. Each team has had trouble hitting shots, but the defense of the Blue Devils has allowed their lead to balloon to 16.

Duke 50- UNC 38, 15:32,

Duke is playing with an unmatchable energy level right now on defense. The Blue Devils have been switching between man-to-man and zone defenses all night, but even when UNC swings the ball around the arc, it seems a Blue Devil always arrives in time to close down and prevent an uncontested shot.

Duke 46- UNC 35, 18:06

Jasmine Thomas started the second half for Duke, erasing concerns of an injury, but her play offensively has been notably off thus far. In the last two minutes, Thomas has missed a breakaway layup, and clanged two successive midrange jumpers, but then managed to convert from the line after drawing a shooting foul.

Halftime: Duke 42, UNC 33

The Tar Heels were in position to take the last shot of the half and draw closer to Duke, but a steal from Bridgette Mitchell just before time expired sent the Blue Devils into the locker room up nine. Duke's help defense has been spectacular throughout the first half, and UNC has not managed to find easy points in the halfcourt set. When UNC has pushed the pace, Duke has had trouble rotating, and the Tar Heels have knocked down open jumpers. Duke star Jasmine Thomas has only played six minutes of the opening half, which is uncharacteristic for her.

Duke 38- UNC 27, 2:05,

Duke guard Shay Selby knocked down a three from the corner and drew the foul, sending Cameron into its loudest state of the night. Head coach Joanne P. McCallie is imploring her players to remain focused defensively.

Duke 35- UNC 25, 3:33,

Great ball movement and strong post offense has kept the Blue Devils ahead, but the Tar Heels are beginning to play a more up-tempo style, and adjust to the Duke press. If UNC doesn't take a shot before the 20 second mark on the shot clock, it's allowing Duke to comfortably settle in defensively, and force Tar Heel mistakes. Whether UNC decides to employ the D'Antoni offense for an extended period remains to be seen.

Duke 25 - UNC 16, 7:34,

The Tar Heels finally managed to knock down shots outside the paint, and a pull up 3-pointer from She'la White has brought the UNC faithful back to life. The atmosphere has been impressive so far, and the Blue Devils are giving their fans a lot to cheer for. Vernerey and Krystal Thomas have done an excellent job defensively in the post both blocking shots and sealing space for defensive rebounds, which has fueled the crowd.

Duke 18 - UNC 9, 11:52,

Duke's pressure defense has been feast-or-famine thus far, though for the most part, the Blue Devils have been eating well. UNC's ball handlers have not had an easy time getting the ball up the floor, and have had to fight off multiple double teams from a determined Blue Devil defense. When the Tar Heels have been able to break the press, they've gotten a few easy buckets.

Duke 16 - UNC 4, 13:15,

Duke's impregnable defense has been the story thus far, as each and every Blue Devil on the floor has been outstanding defensively. UNC has not had an easy shot in the last five minutes.

Duke 8 - UNC 0, 17:43 left in the first half:

The Blue Devils started the game with a flurry of offense, with quick buckets from Jasmine Thomas, Joy Cheek, and two easy conversions in the post from Allison Vernerey. On defense, the Devils have been just as effective, pressuring the Tar Heels into early misses.

Starting Lineups:

For Duke:                                      For UNC:

43 Allison Vernerey                                20 Chay Shegog

21 Joy Cheek                                               32 Waltiea Rolle

13 Karima Christmas                               22 Cetera DeGraffenreid

31 Keturah Jackson                                  44 Tierra Ruffin-Pratt

5 Jasmine Thomas                                    50 Italee Lucas

Tonight in Cameron Indoor Stadium, two teams with high expectations will look to make amends for disappointing losses in what will surely be a closely contested edition of the Duke-UNC rivalry. No. 8 Duke (18-4, 6-1 in the ACC) fell to Boston College last Thursday night on the road, when an uncharacteristically undisciplined defensive showing led to the Blue Devils’ first conference loss of the season. No. 18 UNC (16-5, 4-3) dropped a home game to Florida State a week ago, and then fell to Miami in Coral Gables just three nights later, relegating the Tar Heels to the middle of the log-jammed ACC standings. Both teams will be looking to pick up a vital win tonight to position themselves for a possible regular-season ACC title. Coming into the contest, the Tar Heels have the edge in scoring (80.5 PPG vs. Duke’s 72.8), and are led by junior guard Italee Lucas (16.6 PPG). Duke, however, boasts the best defense in the ACC, and is holding opponents to just 54.6 PPG.  Carolina will look to stretch the Duke defense tonight with a very balanced offensive attack—Carolina has seven players averaging at least seven points per game.

We'll be back at the tip with the starting lineups.


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