“We did change a little bit how we guarded (Liston) in the second half,” associate head coach Andrew Calder said. “Diamond made the adjustments that she needed to make, with her high basketball IQ, to help shut her down.”
And even with a greater defensive intensity, DeShields made sure she made her presence felt on the offensive end of the court as well. With Duke making a furious charge late in the second half, each possession became more valuable. So when sophomore Xylina McDaniel missed an open 3-pointer with little more than three minutes to go and UNC clinging to a three-point lead, an empty possession could’ve been devastating. But as the shot clanked off the rim, DeShields charged into the paint and got her hands on the ball and won a tug-of-war match with a Blue Devil before the two came crashing to the floor. DeShields came up with the ball.
The would-be empty possession, turned into an Allisha Gray 3-pointer 17 seconds later.
On the next Tar Heel possession, DeShields received the ball in the corner, with plenty of space for her to take a 3-pointer that could’ve driven the final dagger into any potential Duke run at victory. But instead she fired a pass over the hands of several Duke defenders, a pass that landed perfectly into Stephanie Mavunga’s hands for an alley-oop layup. The UNC lead was extended, but still within reach.
“Those are all parts of my game that didn’t show last time we played Duke,” DeShields said, “But they showed tonight because that’s just what I had to do.”
There are other things Diamond can do. But when the shot clock approached zero with just more than a minute left in the game, DeShields had the ball in her hands, and she knew exactly what to do. The fact that she shot 7-for-22 in the game didn’t matter, because she released a baseline jumper moments before the buzzer rang throughout Carmichael Arena that did exactly what she expected it to do — it went in.
“Everyone has roles on the team,” DeShields said. “I think scoring is a role, too, and I think I’m good at having that role of scorer.”
Her scoring didn’t actually suffer from her poor shooting night; she still finished with a team-high 18 points and became the first UNC freshman to ever score 500 points . But it was her ability to supplement her scoring with big-time plays in other areas that solidified a UNC win and reminded spectators in the building of one thing:
There’s other things that Diamond can do.