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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

DeShields, Tar Heels become only local team in Sweet 16 this year

Posted by on Tue, Mar 25, 2014 at 11:58 PM

Diamond DeShields hits an open layup against Michigan State.
  • Photo courtesy ACCWBB DIgest/Dana E. Warren
  • Diamond DeShields hits an open layup against Michigan State.
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL There’s only one college basketball team from the Triangle still playing.

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.

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    UNC bounces back from near upset loss to drub Big Ten foe.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

DePaul's 3-point barrage gives Duke seniors a painful exit

Posted by on Mon, Mar 24, 2014 at 10:45 PM

DePaul’s Centrese McGee (23) and Jasmine Perry (31) fight Duke’s Elizabeth Williams for a rebound. Duke’s No. 32 is Tricia Liston.
  • Photo courtesy Orin Day/ACCWBB Digest
  • DePaul’s Centrese McGee (23) and Jasmine Perry (31) fight Duke’s Elizabeth Williams for a rebound. Duke’s No. 32 is Tricia Liston.
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM It gets a little more serious for Duke tonight.

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.

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    Blue Demons hit 14 3-pointers as Liston, Peters, Jackson see careers end early.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Tar Heels come from 18 back to win a crazy one against UT Martin

Posted by on Sun, Mar 23, 2014 at 8:33 PM

UNC players celebrate after their 18-point comeback. (L-R) Diamond DeShields, Danielle Butts, Allisha Gray, Stephanie Mavunga, Latifah Coleman, Jessica Washington.
  • Photo courtesy Orin Day/ACCWBB Digest
  • UNC players celebrate after their 18-point comeback. (L-R) Diamond DeShields, Danielle Butts, Allisha Gray, Stephanie Mavunga, Latifah Coleman, Jessica Washington.
CARMICHAEL ARENA/CHAPEL HILL UNC takes the floor in the NCAA Tournament for the 25th time, this time starting it without Sylvia Hatchell on the sidelines.

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.

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    Scoreboard malfunction, campus lockdown and a once-in-a-generation rally.

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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Duke comes out on all cylinders, blows away Winthrop

Posted by on Sat, Mar 22, 2014 at 5:23 PM

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.

Tricia Liston drives for a layup. Duke’s No. 1 is Elizabeth Williams, and Winthrop’s No. 22 is Dequesha McClanahan.
  • Photo by Chris Baird
  • Tricia Liston drives for a layup. Duke’s No. 1 is Elizabeth Williams, and Winthrop’s No. 22 is Dequesha McClanahan.

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.

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    Blue Devils host 28-6 DePaul on Monday night.

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Newcomer Irish need no luck, blow by Duke to win ACC Tournament

Posted by on Sun, Mar 9, 2014 at 11:05 PM

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.

Dukes Tricia Liston had a tough night, but was still named first team All-Tournament.
  • Photo by A.N. Onymous
  • Duke's Tricia Liston had a tough night, but was still named first team All-Tournament.

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.

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    Notre Dame becomes first ACC "expansion" team to cut the nets.

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Anatomy of a grudge match: Duke’s win over Carolina in five acts

Posted by on Sun, Mar 9, 2014 at 4:21 AM

PHOTO COURTESY OF DUKEPLANET
  • Photo courtesy of DukePlanet
CAMERON INDOOR STADIUM/DURHAM - Act I: The Run-Up

For weeks, since UNC came from behind to slap down Duke by 8 in Chapel Hill, the rematch has loomed large. Once confident Duke fans, who more recently saw their purported top-five team humiliated by a not very good Wake Forest team last Wednesday, have grown nervous, with visions of the terrible smack talk they will endure at the gym, office and corner store if the Blue Devils somehow lose at Cameron.

Anything could happen. The Tar Heels are on a demi-tear, winners of twelve in a row, some precariously, but winning nonetheless. Duke is pulling a late season Jekyll and Hyde, executing brilliantly for long stretches and then suddenly disintegrating under pressure, as if they’ve pulled a collective hammy. And Coach Mike Krzyzewski went to the hospital Wednesday night, after experiencing what he described as “not lightheadedness, it was different” although he ended up checking out fine.

Saturday is a warm night, in Durham, after a swing of 30 degrees since Friday, and many in the crowd pressing outside Cameron have spent the day in the sun, their faces flushed with yard work, bike rides and walks around the block. The students have been drinking. Their muddy encampment is strewn with plastic vodka bottles, flattened cardboard that once held cans of Budweiser and Natural Light, and a odd bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, all empty, amidst high-end camping equipment and a makeshift solar panel feeding black power lines into one tent.

“It’s so disgusting,” says one young woman to another as they pass the muddy mess, walking away from their fellow students, some of who have painted their bodies from the gallon tins of Gliddon Interior Paint resting on a table beside the line. The line itself is cordoned off in sections, like the locks in the Panama Canal, slowly dripping students into the building, a far cry from the days before Duke’s national championships, when impatient and immoral upperclassman would hide in the woods, rush the line at the last minute, and mosh pit themselves inside. A DJ blasts Top 40 remixed with techno. Duke’s gonna win. They have to, don’t they?

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    Carolina does not quit, and for a moment, it looks like Duke will fail to bury the dead.

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Blue Devils get shot to defend ACC title against loaded Irish

Posted by on Sat, Mar 8, 2014 at 11:43 PM

Duke’s junior guard Ka’lia Johnson, who has played more big minutes over the past two games than at any time in her career, celebrates the Blue Devil victory.
  • Photo courtesy Orin Day/ACCWBB Digest
  • Duke’s junior guard Ka’lia Johnson, who has played more big minutes over the past two games than at any time in her career, celebrates the Blue Devil victory.
GREENSBORO COLISEUM It’s Semifinals Day at the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament, and there’s good news and bad news for Triangle fans.

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.

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    Tar Heels, Wolfpack await NCAA Tourney invites

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Pack, Devils, Heels all gain ACC women's semifinals

Posted by on Sat, Mar 8, 2014 at 12:17 AM

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.

Notre Dames Taya Reimer drives to the hoop against Florida State.

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.

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    Historic ACC semifinals start at 5 p.m. today.

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Friday, March 7, 2014

Favored teams manage to survive Thursday's ACC Tourney action

Posted by on Fri, Mar 7, 2014 at 1:09 AM

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.

UNC’s Diamond DeShields goes under the hoop for a layup. UNC’s No. 1 is Stephanie Mavunga.
  • Photo by Chris Baird
  • UNC’s Diamond DeShields goes under the hoop for a layup. UNC’s No. 1 is Stephanie Mavunga.

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.

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    Tar Heels' second-half comeback ends Deacons' season

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Deacons, Cavaliers, Tigers survive ACC first-round games

Posted by on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 10:43 PM

Wake Forest’s Dearica Hamby skies for a layup. The Deacons’ No. 2 is Jill Brunori. Pitt’s No. 0 is Asia Logan and No. 51 is Cora McManus.
  • Photo courtesy Orin Day/ACCWBB Digest
  • Wake Forest’s Dearica Hamby skies for a layup. The Deacons’ No. 2 is Jill Brunori. Pitt’s No. 0 is Asia Logan and No. 51 is Cora McManus.
GREENSBORO COLISEUM The 37th ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament, the biggest such tournament in the conference’s history, begins this afternoon with three games including one in a night session.

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.

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    Wake Forest takes on UNC in Thursday nightcap

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