DURHAM, N.C. — The No. 22 North Carolina women’s basketball team (20-9, 11-7 ACC) defeated No. 11 Duke (24-5, 14-4 ACC), 45-41 at a sold-out Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
UNC drew first blood when junior forward Alyssa Ustby stole Duke guard Celeste Taylor’s pass and scored the fastbreak layup. A few possessions later, Duke answered with corner three from Duke guard Elizabeth Balogun.
Junior guard Kennedy Todd-Williams connected on a fastbreak mid-range jumper and junior guard Deja Kelly hit a pull-up mid-range shot. Taylor answered with a 3-pointer. Duke guard Vanessa de Jesus hit a tough floater, but UNC redshirt first-year guard Kayla McPherson answered with a one-legged fadeaway. Duke forward Mia Heide closed out the first quarter with two scores to give the Blue Devils a 14-8 lead.
Both teams struggled to take care of the basketball but couldn’t capitalize on turnovers. North Carolina chipped at the lead as sophomore forward Destiny Adams drove baseline for a score and McPherson drove and kicked the ball out to first-year guard Paulina Paris for a wide open corner triple.
The Blue Devils scored their first bucket in the second quarter five minutes in when Balogun hit a jumper. Duke center Kennedy Brown scored inside and McPherson’s pull-up three was blocked by Balogun. Paris tried a fastbreak lefty behind-the-back pass to McPherson, but it was stolen by Taylor and Duke extended its lead to 18-13. After another turnover-riddled few minutes, Balogun bullied her way inside to put Duke up 20-13, but Adams hit a timely 3-pointer on the other end.
Balogun hit a three out of the break and Ustby answered with an inside jumper. Ustby picked up another steal to score a fastbreak layup and Kelly slipped a pass to junior forward Anya Poole to tie it up at 23-23. UNC redshirt senior guard Eva Hodgson picked up a charge on the other end.
Todd-Williams fired an inbounds pass to McPherson, who immediately tapped it to Poole for another layup. de Jesus hit a tough baseline jumper to tie it up at 25-25, and Kelly sank two free throws. Todd-Williams knocked down a pull-up mid-range and de Jesus hit two free throws to close out the third quarter, 29-29.
Taylor, along with all of Duke’s starters, checked into the game to open up the fourth quarter. The Blue Devils erupted for a 7-0 run when Taylor hit a three, Balogun scored inside and guard Shayeann Day-Wilson drained a mid-range jumper.