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Monday, December 1, 2014

Tar Heels stay perfect, Blue Devils hold on in Top 10

Posted by on Mon, Dec 1, 2014 at 6:20 PM

UNC played great defense in its season opener against Howard (above) and continued it during its dream vacation in Hawaii. - FILE PHOTO BY KIM KELLAM
  • File photo by Kim Kellam
  • UNC played great defense in its season opener against Howard (above) and continued it during its dream vacation in Hawaii.

There's a saying out there that "All good things must come to an end," and that was true this week in Triangle ACC women's basketball.

N.C. State lost twice and Duke lost once, all on the road. And none was really an upset. So that leaves UNC as the only team with a chance to get through the 2014 portion of the schedule without a loss.

But both the Tar Heels and Blue Devils got good news when the AP poll came out. UNC moved all the way up to sixth place from No. 11 after upsetting Stanford, while Duke - which at No. 8 lost at No. 7 Texas A&M as All-America center Elizabeth Williams nursed a foot injury - dropped only one spot to leave the ACC with four teams in the top nine.

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    Blue Devils host No. 1 Gamecocks on Sunday.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Everybody stays perfect as Tar Heels, Wolfpack repel challenges

Posted by on Mon, Nov 24, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Freshman everywhere player Azura Stevens of Cary is having quick success for Duke. - KIM KELLAM
  • Kim Kellam
  • Freshman everywhere player Azura Stevens of Cary is having quick success for Duke.

The second week of the season for the Triangle's ACC women's basketball teams was a lot similar to the first - with all the marks going into the left column.

But there were a couple of close calls, as No. 11 UNC (3-0) had to fight in the final minute to hold off No. 21 Oklahoma State 79-77 on Sunday after N.C. State (4-0) was able to hold off pesky High Point 66-62 on Friday night. No. 8 Duke (3-0) has been pretty much cruising so far.

This week should get a lot tougher for everybody. The Wolfpack visits Tulane (3-0) tonight and could see No. 24 Purdue on Saturday in the Bahamas. UNC will take on No. 5 Stanford on Friday night in Hawaii. And Duke is at No. 7 Texas A&M on Sunday.

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    Young Duke has been cruising against outgunned opposition so far.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

So far, so good for Triangle ACC women's hoops

Posted by on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 3:28 PM


Sylvia Hatchell accepts congratulations from UNC men's coach Roy Williams after Friday's win. - KIM KELLAM
  • Kim Kellam
  • Sylvia Hatchell accepts congratulations from UNC men's coach Roy Williams after Friday's win.

By all accounts, the opening of the ACC women's basketball season was a great success in the Triangle.

No. 7 Duke opened with an explosion, annihilating a middling Alabama team 90-40 on the road Sunday night.

No. 13 UNC started 2-0, having to work harder to escape upstart Howard than No. 23 UCLA.

And work-in-progress N.C. State escaped challenges from a couple of Historically Black colleges in eventually comfortable wins over Tennessee State and Coppin State.

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    Duke throttles Alabama in its first SEC Network appearance.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

High hopes all around as ACC women's hoops tip off today

Posted by on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 12:01 AM


Both Duke and UNC are in the nation's preseason Sweet 16. - FILE PHOTO BY ORIN DAY
  • File photo by Orin Day
  • Both Duke and UNC are in the nation's preseason Sweet 16.

All three of the Triangle's ACC women's basketball teams should be very good again this season.

And if that sounds like a broken record, that's OK.

Duke (28-7, 12-4 ACC last season) comes into the campaign ranked No. 7 nationally in the AP poll, while UNC (27-10, 10-6) is No. 13 and N.C. State (25-8, 11-5) received the fifth highest number of points of unranked squads.

The Blue Devils are picked second in the ACC, the Tar Heels fourth and the Wolfpack ninth.

The campaign starts today at 4 at Carmichael Arena, when UNC takes on Howard (11-20) in Coach Sylvia Hatchell's first official game back after missing all of last season undergoing treatment for leukemia.

Wes Moore begins his second season with the Wolfpack tonight at 7, as Tennessee State (12-18) comes to Reynolds Coliseum.

Duke won't open until Sunday, when Joanne P. McCallie's Blue Devils visit Alabama (14-16) at 8 p.m. Duke's first two games are on the road before the home opener against Marquette on Nov. 23.

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    Once again all three Triangle teams are supposed to be good.

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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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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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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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