CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM It’s yet another installment in the Battle of the Blues, meaning there’s going to be a near-sellout crowd tonight.
Duke (18-3, 9-0 ACC) comes in ranked No. 5 in the nation, hoping to keep alive a chance for the No. 1 seed in the Raleigh Regional. No. 22 UNC (17-5, 7-2) still has an outside chance for the ACC regular-season title if the Tar Heels can claim an upset tonight. Carolina has been walking a tightrope to stay in the Top 25 for six weeks, and saved it again with a 64-56 home-court win over Virginia Friday night.
Both teams are strongest at the center position, where UNC Chay Shegog is cementing her case for first-team All-ACC and the Blue Devils’ freshman Elizabeth Williams is a lock for rookie of the year.
This time the night belongs to Duke, which takes control after the opening minutes and rolls to a 96-56 rout in front of 8,595.
There are actually five lead changes early on. UNC’s last advantage is at 10-9 on a Brittany Rountree jumper with 13:03 left in the half before Tricia Liston puts the Blue Devils up 12-10 on a 3-pointer at 11:26.
That starts a 21-6 run and Duke never looks back, leading 50-24 at halftime and 84-43 on a Chelsea Gray free throw with 8:26 left.
Liston ties her season high with 23 points, followed by Richa Jackson with 17 and Gray with 15 — along with seven rebounds and seven assists. Williams has 13 points and 10 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season and blocks six shots to set the ACC freshman record with 85. Shay Selby scores 10 points — her best against an ACC opponent this season — and sets a career high with six assists.
Shegog pours in 19 points on six for nine from the field and seven of 10 from the line, but nobody else hits double figures for UNC. Rountree and Krista Gross hit eight each.
Duke shoots 54.4 percent to UNC’s 32.3, wins the rebound battle 45-34 and forces 22 turnovers to 18 of its own.
They said it …
Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie: “We really played good basketball tonight, a great team game. I tell you, the team really fed off each other. There was very little play-calling, and a lot of creation by the team in finding the open player. Everybody stepped up and also did the dirty work — the rebounding and the things that are really, really important in the course of a game.”
UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell: “We’re a better team than we showed tonight. (Duke’s) 3-point shooting was unbelievable. They got 30 points from the ‘3’ and we got six. I thought we started off good in the first few minutes. We did some good things. But then they started popping shots and making ‘3s.’”
Liston: “I had fun playing out there with my team because I think everyone had a good game. You could tell that we felt the chemistry on the court more so than we have in other games. That shows by the assists. But it just felt good.”
Shegog: “They changed defenses, they really threw a lot of different things at us and we didn’t execute well. I think that’s the main thing. Then they just took off. I mean, great teams do that.”
What does it all mean?
That Duke is that good. And that the Tar Heels need to figure out how to keep everything from getting out of sync against a great team on the road.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Liston’s three-point play from Gray to make it 23-12 with 7:52 left in the half.
Duke: Won 2.
UNC: Lost 1.
UNC leads 47-35.
UNC at Miami, Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Duke at Boston College, Thursday, 7 p.m.