Duke women's basketball fell in its regular-season finale to rival North Carolina, breaking its season-long home win streak. The Blue Zone breaks down the loss:
One player: Elizabeth Balogun
She led the score sheet and she carried the game. Senior guard Elizabeth Balogun kept herself together for the entirety of the matchup, garnering a respectable 12 points and catching five boards as well. The Lagos, Nigeria, native simply showed up, proving her versatility on the court by taking care of the ball when no one else could and landing two of her three attempted shots from beyond the arc. When she lined up with the rest of the senior class to honor her tenure at Duke, this Blue Devil had much to celebrate, even after an overall disappointing day on the court. Balogun has now played two seasons under head coach Kara Lawson and has made good use of them both; she’s a consistent force to be reckoned with — something that undoubtedly stood out in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
One word: Whistle
A 40-minute game never actually takes just 40 minutes. But this matchup was particularly stocked with stoppages, as every minute brought in a new reason for the whistle to blow. The Blue Devils racked up so many fouls that North Carolina was in the bonus halfway through the third quarter, and travels and mess-ups accumulated on the other side of the court to give Duke its own share of chances. The Blue Devils did not take advantage of these opportunities — in the second and third quarters, the only significant changes on the box score were fouls and turnovers. Neither team was doing much to actually rack up a point total—Duke, in fact, collected its fourth-lowest point total of all time.
In true rivalry style, the game was all over the place. The ball went back and forth across the court like a bullet, falling victim to travels and interceptions on nearly every play. In the first half, Duke and North Carolina each gave up 13 turnovers; it was a joint effort to keep the crowd’s heads swinging back and forth for those first 20 minutes. From the get-go, it became clear that the Blue Devils were going to have their work cut out taking care of the ball on offense — the Tar Heels put up a scrappy defensive effort that involved 15 total steals. Ultimately, they managed to effectively restrict Duke, who shot 8-for-30 in the first half and 8-for-23 in the second.
One stat: 1 home loss
The buzzer sounded to signal a North Carolina win in Cameron, and it was like an unwelcome flashback for Blue Devil basketball fans as Duke lost in their last game of the regular season at home and against their most contentious rival. Sunday’s event became the first and only home loss that the Blue Devils have experienced this season, cracking an undefeated record that had carried all the way through ACC competition. For every fan in the sold-out stadium, save those wearing the lighter shade of blue, Sunday was heartbreaking.
Still, Lawson was all smiles as she stood at halfcourt to celebrate senior day. A loss to the Tar Heels at the end of last year’s men’s regular season did little to stop then-head coach Mike Kzryzewski from a deep tournament run, and that’s exactly where Lawson’s head is likely at now. In all likelihood, Duke will face North Carolina again on Friday in the second round of the ACC tournament, meaning the Blue Devils have one more chance for revenge. Duke’s home record has changed, sure — it’s now at 13-1 — but if the Blue Devils can keep their heads in the game for next week, they might be able to set a new undefeated record, this time in the conference tournament.
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