And the young women’s squad from UNC, a rare team without a senior, gets one more home game in an attempt to get on an NCAA Tournament roll.
The Tar Heels (25-9), seeded No. 4 in the Stanford Regional, will take on No. 5 seed Michigan State (23-9), and it will be interesting to see if their first-round games here carry over at all.
UNC needed something close to a miracle to beat little UT Martin 60-58, while MSU annihilated Hampton 91-61.
And apparently the scare woke up the young Tar Heels.
Diamond DeShields responds with her first double-double of the year with 24 points and a season-high 12 rebounds as UNC is in control throughout in a 62-53 victory.
The Blue Devils, seeded No. 2 in the Lincoln Regional, blasted an outgunned Winthrop team by 42 points in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament.
But tonight’s opponent is Big East champion and No. 7 seed DePaul, which also has a 28-6 record and plays a somewhat similar level of opposition all season.
Duke has made the Elite Eight round of the tournament each of the last four seasons, and is trying to give seniors Tricia Liston, Haley Peters and Richa Jackson — along with classmate Chelsea Gray who is sidelined with a broken kneecap — a solid finish to their careers.
Duke’s 19-game NCAA home-court winning streak if on the line, and this opponent is no pushover.
The Blue Devils have a couple of Chicago connections, as Coach Joanne P. McCallie starred at Northwestern while Liston’s father Brian played at Loyola under current DePaul women’s coach as an assistant.
There is not going to be a happy ending for the home folks this time.
DePaul thinks 3-pointer first and rains in 14 of 33, ending Duke’s often spectacular Class of ’14 era 74-65.
The coach has been battling leukemia all season and was hoping to be on the bench to start the tournament, but she isn’t quite ready.
So veteran associate head coach Andrew Calder will direct the freshman-laden Tar Heels, who are ranked No. 12 in the country and boasting a 24-9 record without a senior on the roster.
UNC takes a No. 4 seed into its tournament opener against No. 13 seed Tennessee Martin (24-7), which comes in on a seven-game win streak after winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament.
The word “wild” gets used far too often by sportscasters, but this time it fits.
The Tar Heels survive a campus-wide lone-nut alert, a scoreboard malfunction that delays the start of the second half and an 18-point deficit with under 11 minutes to play and somehow eke out a 60-58 win to deny the Skyhawks an historic upset.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM It’s the beginning of the final run for Duke’s senior class, which came in as the nation’s top recruiting group and hasn’t disappointed.
Tricia Liston, Haley Peters and Richa Liston enter their final NCAA Tournament hoping to get to their only Final Four, unfortunately with classmate Chelsea Gray on the bench with a season-ending kneecap injury and guard Chloe Wells no longer on the roster.
The Blue Devils (27-6) have a No. 2 seed — the selection committee did them a horrible injustice by putting them into the Lincoln Regional with Connecticut — and will take on Big South champion and No. 15 seed Winthrop (24-8) in the 11 a.m. game that starts the whole tournament.
The Eagles, who have freshman Carolina Friends School product Zoe Vernon as one of their top players off the bench, will be heavy underdogs.
This one is a romp from the start, as Duke never trails, takes a 24-point lead into the locker room and rolls 87-45.
GREENSBORO COLISEUM Duke gets a chance to repeat as ACC Women’s Basketball champion tonight, but to get that done the Blue Devils will have to slay Goliath.
Notre Dame (31-0) won both regular-season meetings with No. 10 Duke by a total of 31 points, and the intrepid Blue Devils are down to their fourth point guard.
But Duke (27-5) is coming off a brilliant 66-61 win over archrival UNC in Saturday’s nightcap following a 30-point rout of Georgia Tech, and it’s fair to say Joanne P. McCallie’s team is on a good roll.
Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, on this night the Irish’s outside combination of Jewell Loyd and Kayla McBride is about as good as has been seen in women’s college basketball.
Loyd finishes with 26 points and McBride 25 as the Irish use a big second half to break away for a 69-53 win.
Good news is that all the local teams — No. 14 N.C. State, No. 10 Duke and No. 13 UNC — are still alive and kicking.
The bad news is that No. 2 newcomer Notre Dame with its 30-0 record is licking its chops to spoil the party.
No North Carolina team has been within 10 points of the Irish this season, which ended with a trio of victories over the Blue Devils, Tar Heels and Wolfpack by a combined 60 points.
The Irish will take on State in the first semifinal, and unfortunately for Wes Moore’s club center Markeisha Gatling — the nation’s leading field-goal shooter who suffered a minor knee injury the day before in the win over Syracuse — won’t start and may not play. She should be fine for the NCAA Tournament in two weeks.
Freshman Jennifer Mathurin will start for the Wolfpack, and with Olympian Natalie Achonwa going for the Irish it’s one of the rare times two Canadians will start an ACC game.
Whatever happens in this one the Tar Heels and Blue Devils will square off in the nightcap. UNC, with Andrew Calder directing from the sidelines as head coach Sylvia Hatchell has leukemia treatments, has won twice by a combined 15 points. The 11-point win at Cameron was UNC’s best win of the season, unless shooing No. 7 Maryland out of the ACC 73-70 on Friday night topped it.
Duke has had a ridiculous run of injuries with its point guards, but with two weeks’ notice may have made one. Ka’lia Johnson was extremely solid Friday night in a 30-point annihilation of an NCAA-bound Georgia Tech team.
The Wolfpack can’t hang with the Irish. But in the second game — which is worthy of being one of those “Instant Classics” — Duke holds off UNC 66-61.
GREENSBORO COLISEUM It’s Day Three of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament, and only NCAA Tournament-bound teams are left.
Good news around the Triangle is that all three local teams are still around, although two of them got the double-byes to this point.
The first-session crowd materializes — although it’s much smaller than it would have been — despite the ice storm that seems to have paralyzed the Triad.
The first game will see No. 4 seed and No. 14 ranked N.C. State (24-6) take on No. 5 seed Syracuse (22-8) and the freshman Day twins — Briana and Bria — from Millbrook High.
In the second game, tournament favorite and No. 2ranked Notre Dame (29-0) will face No. 9 seed Florida State (20-10).
Defending champion, No. 2 seed and No. 10 ranked Duke (25-5) will take on No. 7 seed Georgia Tech (20-10) in the evening opener, with No. 3 seed and No. 7 ranked Maryland (24-5) facing No. 6 seed and No. 13 UNC (23-8) squaring off in the nightcap.
And it turns out to be a mega-happy day for Triangle fans as well as probably the conference coffers as N.C. State, Duke and UNC win along with Notre Dame.
GREENSBORO COLISEUM It’s Day Two of the longest ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament ever, and today teams with winning records are in the house.
So are the kids.
It’s the first of two days in which there are 11 a.m. “Education Day” contests, with youngsters bused in from Guilford county and surrounding school districts.
The noisy one will have a lot of Orange, as Syracuse (21-8) makes its ACC Tournament debut against Clemson (13-18). The Tigers ended Virginia Tech’s WNIT hopes with a 69-56 victory on Wednesday’s opener. There are three Triangle-area players on the rosters, as Hillside alum Chelsea Lindsay handles and ball for Clemson while freshman twins Briana and Bria Day play the post for Syracuse.
Then it’s the latest battle for Sunshine State bragging rights, as No. 8 seed Florida State (19-10) will face No. 9 seed Miami (16-13) which has to win to have any hopes for the NCAA Tournament.
The first game of the night doubleheader will have Georgia Tech (19-10) taking on Virginia (14-16), which dropped Boston College 74-59 on Wednesday and has long-shot WNIT aspirations.
And the show will close with a Big Four battle between No. 13-ranked UNC (22-8) and Wake Forest (15-15), which dispatched Pittsburgh 72-58 on Wednesday and needs to win to get a WNIT opportunity.
With the infamous “double bye” for the 15-team field No. 10-ranked Duke and No. 14-ranked N.C. State won’t even play until Friday, while No. 13-ranked UNC will take to the court on Thursday at 8.
Today’s program features all the teams seeded No. 10 and below in the conference standings.
No. 12 seed Virginia Tech and No. 13 seed Clemson square off in the opener, with No. 10 seed Virginia taking on No. 15 seed Boston College in the middle game and No. 11 seed Wake Forest facing No. 14 seed Pittsburgh in the nightcap.
Everybody is wearing some kind of pink today, saluting the Kay Yow Foundation and the fight against breast cancer.