POSTGAME: McCants leads all scorers with 24, but four Duke players finish in double figures. Jasmine Thomas paces the squad with 19 pints, Christmas comes in with 18, Gay finishes with 15 in her last gamein Cameron and Mitchell tallies 13. Gay also finishes with 12 rebounds as Duke outrebounds the Tar Heels 54-42. The Tar Heels finish with 33 turnovers–yes, that’s 33 turnovers–on 23 (!) Duke steals. Plus, the Blue Devils picked up 32 (!) offensive rebounds. Waner’s shooting line in her last game? 2-of-16 from the floor–but one of those two was the biggest shot of the night.
Anyone out there want to guess how many shots Duke took? Over/under 80? Take the over. The Blue Devils attempted 87 shots, making 30 of them for a 34.5 percent clip. But if Duke had taken 86 shots, it would have lost. It’s a crazy game.
SENIOR DAY SPEECHES: Quote of the night, from Abby Waner: “What I’m learning is that it’s completely about the process. It’s about the four years I spent here…. I can only hope that I have given back to Cameron half of what Cameron has given to me.”
DUKE 81-79, FINAL: Wow. I’ve seen plenty of great games inside Cameron, but this might go down as the best in the last few years, at least on the women’s side. Christmas makes one free throw, McCants makes a three, but it doesn’t matter. The Blue Devils take down the Tar Heels for the first time in five games, and now they’re celebrating–and rightly so–on midcourt. Waner, Black and Gay leave Cameron with a win, and they’re about to talk. But in the meantime, it bears repeating: Wow. What a game.
DUKE 80-76, 10.8: Lucas misses a three, Krystal Thomas grabs the rebound, Christmas is fouled with a chance to basically seal the game. Chants of “Our house” are already echoing through Cameron.
There was talk all week that this was the type of game Duke needed before the NCAA Tournament. If the Blue Devils had lost, it might have buried them, but you just got a feeling all night that Duke was going to find a way to send its seniors off in style. We’re still a few seconds away from the ending, but it looks like the Blue Devils may have been capable of doing just that.
DUKE 80-76, 19.3: Finally, Duke is in control of this game. Krystal Thomas, who’s been relatively quiet all night, stuffs Chegog under the basket and Jasmine Thomas comes out with the loose ball. After she and Waner play keepaway for a few seconds, Thomas is fouled and sent to the line, where she makes both. Two-possession game.
DUKE 78-76, 42.9: Shegog lowers her shoulder, banks in a layup and gets fouled. She makes the free pass, and on the other end, UNC switches defenders so McCants guards Thomas instead of DeGraffenreid. Duke can’t get a basket, but makes a stop on the other end. In transition, Waner pulls up for a contested three in front of the bench and finally makes a basket after missing her last 13. Finally, we have a smile from the senior, who’s just hit perhaps the biggest shot of her final season when Duke needed it most. Waner was about five feet behind the line–closer to the Duke bench than the arc–and when the ball swished through, the Cameron crowd exploded. The officials are checking how much time is on the clock now, but they’re probably having trouble hearing.
DUKE 75-73, 1:58: Jasmine Thomas, say hello to the big-time. Duke has been looking for a clutch player all season, and it might have just found it in the form of the sophomore point guard, who has six of Duke’s eight points in overtime by simply exploiting DeGraffenreid, who has been slacking on defense. Thomas has simply driven to the foul line and elevated over her Tar Heel counterpart. UNC took a lead at 73-71, but it was shortlived when Karima Christmas knocked down two free throws. On the ensuing possession, Lucas tries to force a pass to Breland in the paint, but Gay comes over to front the power forward and steals the pass. Thomas took over from there, fading away from DeGraffenreid for her third jumper of the extra session. UNC ball with the full court in front of tem.
DUKE 67-67, OVERTIME: DeGraffenreid winds the clock down at the top of the key and finally penetrates with about five seconds left. She gets a nice look at the basket from the right side, but misses the layup and Krystal Thomas grabs the rebound as the clock expires. Duke scores six unanswered points in the last two minutes to force overtime, and McCallie couldn’t be more pleased. She’s screaming with glee and giving her players high-fives as Waner raises her arms asking the crowd to get louder for the extra period.
The overtime has to favor Duke, which has all the momentum right now. The Cameron crowd has come alive with Duke’s stunning comeback, but remember, Black has been on the bench for more than four minutes. In terms of foul trouble, DeGraffenreid still has four for North Carolina, and Duke should try to exploit that weakness right away. A few Blue Devils have three fouls, but none of the key cogs have four.
Scoring update: McCants leads all scorers with 19–why she didn’t get a crack at the game-winner, we’re not sure–while Breland has 14. Gay and Mitchell have 15, Christmas has 13 and Thomas has 11 for Duke.