Duke continued to pound the ball inside, outscoring North Carolina 22-8 in the paint in the half. At halftime, the Blue Devils held a 45-32 lead.
Though a 4-point play by junior Jamie Cherry and a 3-pointer by redshirt sophomore Paris Kea cut the Duke lead to six in the opening minutes of the third quarter, UNC wouldn’t close the gap any farther.
The Blue Devils dominated the remainder of the game, using a combination of hot shooting and suffocating defense to bring the final score to 95-71.
Who stood out?
First-years accounted for over half of the Tar Heels’ points.
Guard Taylor Koenen recorded a career-high eight assists to go along with 11 points and five rebounds. Smith put on a similarly impressive performance, as she knocked down five threes and scored 15 points, both career highs.
When was it decided?
Just 11 seconds into the third quarter, Cherry was fouled on a made 3-pointer and made the free throw. The Tar Heels recorded a stop before Kea drained another shot from behind the arc. At this point, UNC was only down six and momentum seemed to be swinging the Tar Heels’ way.
But Duke responded with a 14-4 run that stretched the lead to 16, leaving no doubt as to th\he outcome of the game.
Why does it matter?
Head coach Sylvia Hatchell was encouraged by the play of her first-years. For much of the year, North Carolina has had to rely on its veteran backcourt to shoulder the scoring load, so it was refreshing to see some new faces get in on the action.
The Tar Heels will need to see more of this play from their first-years if they hope to continue their season in the ACC Tournament.
Where do they play next?
The Tar Heels travel to Conway, S.C. to play in the first round of the 2016 ACC Tournament on Wednesday.