Rivalries by definition are two-sided affairs, but on this night Duke and North Carolina had no such relationship.
The No. 5 Blue Devils (19-3, 10-0 in the ACC) breezed past the No. 22 Tar Heels (17-6, 7-3) 96-56 Monday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The 40-point win was the second largest margin of victory by Duke in the teams’ 82 meetings. Tricia Liston led all scorers, tying her career-high with 23 points on 7-for-10 shooting, including 4-for-6 from 3-point range. The Tar Heels were led by Chay Shegog’s 19 points.
“You could really tell that we felt the chemistry out there on the court,” Liston said. “Being out there felt good.”
The game started out sloppy and physical, as both teams struggled in their early offensive execution due to the frenzied pace of the game. North Carolina held a 10-9 advantage after the game’s first seven minutes, but Duke mounted a convincing response. The Blue Devils switched to a zone defense and stymied the Tar Heels offense, allowing Duke to relax and get into the flow of the game.
“I actually switched to that to settle us down,” head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
The Blue Devils were able to pull ahead thanks to Liston’s energy off the bench, seizing control of the game with a 22-6 run. Superb 3-point shooting along with pressure defense put the game firmly in Duke’s grasp, as they took a 50-24 lead into halftime, hitting 15 of its last 21 shots. The Blue Devils went into the locker room shooting 8-of-10 from beyond the arc.
“The reason why we shot so well was because there were a lot of easy buckets,” McCallie said. “There were a lot of easy looks because of the way we were passing the ball.”
The second half was dominated by Duke. The Blue Devils continued to expand their margin thanks to their aggressive play and stout defense, forcing the Tar Heels into 22 turnovers in the game. After being outrebounded in the first half, Duke dominated the boards after halftime en route to a 45-34 rebounding margin in the game. The second half was merely an exhibition for the Blue Devils, as they coasted to an easy win, their 28th consecutive victory at home.
Chelsea Gray controlled the tempo throughout the game, adding 15 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and four steals. Gray provided one of the highlights of the game during Duke’s large first half run, when she knocked down a 3-pointer from the letter “h” on “Coach K Court.”
“I thought Chelsea was just rock solid. She was in control of the game,” McCallie said.
Elizabeth Williams filled up the stat sheet for the Blue Devils as well. With 13 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks, five assists, and four steals, Williams notched her fifth double-double of the season. With her six blocks she also set the ACC record for most blocks in a season by a freshman with 85, placing her 10th all-time in program history for a single season.
“She’s a great player,” Shegog said. “Even though she’s just a freshman, she’s shown that she can hang with a lot of the older upperclassmen.”
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This game marked the season-high in attendance for the women’s team this year, as 8,595 fans attended the rivalry game, including a loud and rowdy student section. The team cited the students for creating the game’s atmosphere.
“We love the students. Duke is great that way,” McCallie said. “There are so many interesting students here from all over. To see people come out and act as they did and have so much fun, hopefully they’ll come back over and over again.”