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Sportswrap: Football wins, women's soccer falls at NCAA tournament in high-stakes week for Duke athletics

Duke football's eighth win highlighted a Thanksgiving week full of Blue Devil wins and losses.
Duke football's eighth win highlighted a Thanksgiving week full of Blue Devil wins and losses.

Sportswrap is your one-stop shop for everything Duke athletics, where we’ll recap how each of Duke’s sports currently in competition performed over the last week and give a brief look ahead. Here’s our recap for the week of Nov. 21-27.


Duke ended its regular season with a bang, taking down Wake Forest 34-31 Saturday in Wallace Wade Stadium. Sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard threw for a career-high 391 yards and four touchdowns; his primary targets were Jalon Calhoun and Sahmir Hagans, who accounted for 313 of those yards and three scores. The defense held up for Duke (8-4, 5-3 in the ACC) against the Sam Hartman-led Demon Deacon attack, tallying three sacks, six defended passes and an interception. The Blue Devils’ regular-season record of 8-4 is their best since 2014 and makes them bowl-eligible—they will learn their placement Dec. 4. -Rachael Kaplan

Women’s soccer

The second-seeded Blue Devils’ season ended Friday night in the Elite Eight, as the team fell 3-2 in overtime to No. 1-seed Alabama. The game was scoreless until the 67th minute, when Alabama finally found its way through the Blue Devil back line. The Crimson Tide went on to score another goal five minutes after to make the game 2-0 before sophomore forward Michelle Cooper made it 2-1. Cooper would add another goal three minutes later to make it a tie game. Neither team scored again in regulation, but Alabama delivered the final blow in the first overtime. -Ana Young

Men’s soccer

No.7-overall seed Duke defeated Florida International 1-0 in the third round of the NCAA tournament Sunday afternoon in a scrappy match that featured 37 total fouls, 15 of which were assessed to the Blue Devils. The game’s only goal came after senior forward Scotty Taylor tapped in a corner kick from junior forward Miguel Ramirez with a backheel flick late in the first half. Afterward, Duke relied on graduate goalkeeper Eliot Hamill and its defenders to maintain the lead while faced with an aggressive Panther attack. Next, the Blue Devils will take on at-large Creighton in the quarterfinals at home, in what figures to be a challenging matchup. -Sasha Richie

Men’s basketball

The eighth-ranked Blue Devils nearly survived the gauntlet during Feast Week in Portland, Ore., where they took part in the second-ever Phil Knight Legacy tournament. But after a 54-51 escape of Oregon State on Thanksgiving day and a 71-64 triumph over Xavier in Friday's semifinal, Duke (6-2) ran into trouble Sunday, digging an early hole and ultimately falling to No. 24 Purdue 75-56 in what was a largely non-competitive championship game at the Moda Center. After faltering in their first two ranked matchups, this year’s Blue Devils face a big test Wednesday evening at home against 5-1 Ohio State before opening ACC play Saturday against Boston College. -Jonathan Levitan

Women’s basketball

Duke started off its appearance in the Phil Knight Legacy tournament Friday evening with a 78-50 loss to No. 3 UConn, but it was able to place third in its bracket after a 54-41 consolation win over Oregon State Sunday night. It was ultimately UConn’s fast breaks and energy on the court that propelled them ahead; meanwhile, the Beavers simply could not find the basket enough to remain competitive against Duke (6-1), finishing with a 26.4% field goal percentage. Duke will be back in Cameron Indoor Stadium Thursday at 5 p.m. to face off against Northwestern in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. -Leah Boyd


Duke lost its last regular-season game Wednesday to foe North Carolina (17-25, 25-19, 19-25, 17-25). It was a highly anticipated battle between two of the ACC’s best outside hitters, Duke senior Gracie Johnson and North Carolina sophomore Mabrey Shaffmaster; and while Johnson led both teams with 24 kills, it was ultimately the Tar Heels’ middle hitters and strength behind the service line that gave them the edge. Duke (16-13, 7-11) was not selected as one of the 64 teams that will participate in the NCAA tournament, so its season is officially wrapped. -Boyd


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