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Duke Comeback Stuns UNC, 81-80
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Duke Comeback Stuns UNC, 81-80
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Duke Comeback Stuns UNC, 81-80
By Rob Clough
March 1, 2015

Analysis and Stats (JS)

In memory of Jim Sabiston

Why Duke Won: Duke dominated the paint and turned 22 turnovers into 35 points. Ruling the paint also translated into free throws, with Duke generating four three-point plays in the second half.

Why UNC Lost: Without Mavunga in the game, UNC struggled to establish any kind of post presence. They did score 12 fast break points but didn't speed up the game's tempo as much as they would have liked. The Heels also turned the ball over 22 times against a team that wasn't pressing at any time.

The Game Turned When...: . Stevens hit a pair of foul shots with just 2 seconds left. The game was that close.

X-Factor: Amber Henson. Duke desperately needed scoring from someone beside their big three, and Henson's 10 points and several huge defensive plays started Duke's turnaround.

Areas For Improvement: Point guard play. Johnson's slump continued into this game, and Riggs didn't help much either. That lack of good lead guard play resulted in 23 turnovers.

Ramifications: Duke clinched 4th place in the ACC and likely clinched a chance to host an NCAA tournament berth. They also clinched a 20th victory in a tough season. The Heels dropped to the 6th seed, which may wind up being a better seed since they wouldn't face Notre Dame until the finals, whereas Duke would face them in the semifinals.

Did Not Want: More than 25 Duke turnovers.. Duke held their turnovers down to 23 after committing 14 in the first half and 7 in the first seven minutes.

Duke Starters (from post to point)

Elizabeth Williams


After an opening stickback and a couple of foul shots, Liz had a very quiet first half. It didn't help that she picked up two first half fouls. A late first-half basket broke up a long UNC run. In the second half, she hit 2 foul shots, had a three point play and then took over down the stretch, scoring six points in the final seven minutes--frequently with defenders draped all over her. She was her usual tough self on defense, as Mavunga shot just 3-12 against her. It was a fine send-off for one of Duke's greatest players, leading her team to victory.

Amber Henson


After a difficult first half (other than hitting a long two and making a couple of good passes), Henson dominated the game for about three minutes. With a trey, a block, a three point play and a dish to Stevens, she helped erase a 12-point deficit early in the second half. Late in the half, she hit a tough hook shot to put Duke up by 8. It's not been announced whether or not she'll return next season, so if this is her swan song, it was a good one. She thanked her family.

Ka'lia Johnson


KJ's offensive struggles continue, as her only made shot was a short jumper. Everything else was rushed and off-balance. She had a couple of bad overthrows on inbounds plays that resulted in turnovers. That said, she played solid perimeter defense and generally helped keep the turnovers down when she was in the game. KJ noted that her brother flew in from Japan to see her play -- for the first time in her college career. She also singled out Jordan, the Duke student who is at every game, without fail, and early to boot.

Rebecca Greenwell


Becca had an early three but was otherwise locked up by the Heels in the first half. While she compensated by rebounding well, she did turn the ball over twice. Whenever she had to handle the ball against the Heels, they attacked her dribble and forced turnovers when she held the ball too long. The second half was a different story, as she started things off with a drive and put Duke up with a trey after UNC tied the game early in the second half. She had spectacular back-to-back steals, one of which led to a layup and the other which led to a foul shot. She posted up two UNC players and used a nice step-through to score the basket and get fouled. Greenwell is just now starting to use her size against smaller backcourts. She followed that up with a dish to Mathias for a three point play and a trey. She followed that up with 2 foul shots, though she was an uncharacteristic 4-7 from the line. Despite her turnover trouble, she stayed aggressive and found ways to score even when the Heels sent a chaser after her.

Jenna Frush


Jenna got her first career start on Senior Day and got a rebound and played good defense. She also kept everyone on a steady emotional keel. She thanked her parents for the "long journey" they made to see her (they are Durhamites) and her teammates for having her back. In the post game presser, Coach P praised her for her spirit and wisdom.

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Off the Duke Bench (in order of entry)

Azurá Stevens


This was a spectacular game for Stevens, whose 12 first half points kept Duke in the game. She scored on two stickbacks, hit a turnaround jumper, scored on a give-and-go and drained two long jumpers. During Duke's runs, she scored on a post-up to put Duke up and later hit a turnaround jumper. She hit Williams on a post-up and drained 5-6 free throws down the stretch. Getting a double-double in the season finale against one's arch-rival is an impressive feat, especially since she got the game-clinching rebound.

Mercedes Riggs


Mercedes got a rebound in very limited action, as she was a bad match-up against the Heels.

Kendall Cooper


Kendall followed up a solid showing against Georgia Tech with another good game. She hit 2 early foul shots and scored on a post-up. Later, she hit a jump shot in rhythm, in the second half, she scored on a drive. While she didn't have a great rebounding game, she provided just enough scoring to make UNC take her seriously. This will be crucial for Duke going forward.

Erin Mathias


Erin got a lot of solid playing time, making a reasonable impact on the defensive end. In the second half, when Duke was making its second monster run, she capped it off with a three point play on a pass from Greenwell.This was a big play for her, because she had been working hard with little result on the offensive end for several games now.

Duke Comeback Stuns UNC, 81-80
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Duke Comeback Stuns UNC, 81-80
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