After Jamie Cherry buried UNC's first 3-pointer of the contest, the Blue Devils went on a 5-0 run to push the lead to 19 points. The two teams traded shots for the remaining 18 minutes, but Duke never ceded its double-digit lead through the final two quarters.
Who stood out?
After falling one point shy of the program's first ever triple-double, Paris Kea scored UNC's first seven points and had full command of her mid-range game — even after a hard foul in the game's opening minutes that sent her flying to the floor.
But the former Vanderbilt transfer's early output could only pace the Tar Heels for so long, as Duke's balanced scoring attack and inside presence overwhelmed North Carolina in the second quarter. After starting 3-for-3 from the field, Kea missed seven of her next eight shots — scoring three of UNC's four points in the second quarter.
The redshirt sophomore guard led all scorers with 16 points, but a lack of supporting cast — only Stephanie Watts (15 points) scored more than seven — and an inability to defend Duke inside ultimately doomed the Tar Heels' chances.
When was it decided?
After a hotly-contested first quarter, a Paris Kea jumper gave UNC a 19-18 lead in the early seconds of the second quarter. But that was the apex for the Tar Heels, who missed their next 13 shots and couldn't buy a bucket from beyond the arc.
North Carolina still showed flashes of life in the third quarter — like a 3-pointer from Watts to cut the deficit to 14 or a fallaway mid-range jumper from Kea two minutes later — but the Tar Heels were unable to dent the insurmountable deficit.
Why does it matter?
After losing both matchups with Duke last season by a combined 52 points, the Tar Heels could have made a statement with a win in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Instead, the No. 12 Blue Devils exploited UNC's deficiency inside to the tune of 36 points in the paint, while the Tar Heels' biggest strength — 3-point shooting — fell short in a 4-for-26 effort from beyond the arc.
The loss puts North Carolina at 1-3 in ACC play, with all three losses coming to ranked opponents. While the schedule looks to ease up as the season progresses, a blowout loss to a bitter rival could derail an upstart UNC team as it heads into the meat of its conference slate.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels hit the road again, this time to face Pittsburgh on Sunday at 2 p.m.