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Duke roughs up UNC in Battle of the Blues

Getting bragging rights over a rival always leaves a sweet memory. For the Duke players, they had even more motivation going into their game against North Carolina

Photo by Jon Gardiner, Duke Photography

Durham, NC - There were no blue skies in Cameron Indoor Stadium for the North Carolina Tar Heels as the Duke University Blue Devils hosted the biggest neighborhood rivalry in the ACC on Sunday, January 24th at 3 p.m.

Duke took the win over North Carolina, 71-55. The Blue Devils rise to 15-6, 4-3 in the ACC and the Tar Heels fall to 12-10, 2-5 in the conference. This is North Carolina's fifth consecutive loss following a tough loss to Wake Forest on Thursday.

Duke fought for a confidence booster after falling out of the Associated Press top-25 poll this week, ending an incredible 312 straight weeks' streak.

"I love the game for our team because it was a hard fought game, obviously a very physical game, and I thought we were able to really dictate the physical play in a good way through all of this rebounding. It was a great game for us to grow and get better," said Joanne P. McCallie, head coach for the Blue Devils.

The Duke Blue Devils held the lead after the first period, 18-10, but Carolina was quick to respond, closing Duke's lead to 36-34 by the end of the second.

Blue Devil, Azurá Stevens stole the show, finishing the first half with 16 points and eight rebounds. Stevens also contributed, in large, to the Blue Devils four steals from the first half, adding to a team total of 26 steals over the last two contests, prior to Sunday's matchup against Carolina.

Tar Heel senior N'Dea Bryant contributed eight points and eight rebounds in the first half along with teammate Stephanie Watts, who added eight points. Sophomore guard, Jamie Cherry, added nine points to assisting in closing Duke's lead.

The "Cameron Crazies" set the tone at the beginning of the second half, furthering Duke to gain a 10-point lead early on in the third. A vicious steal by Blue Devil, Oderah Chidom, fired up the energy coming from the "Cameron Crazies," bringing the score to 51-40 at the end of the third.

"Our crowd is amazing. It was so nice to see students out. We have a loyal group of fans, and it was awesome to see that much support," Blue Devil Amber Henson stated on the influence of the Cameron Crazies.

A technical foul on North Carolina with 6:02 remaining was the last thing the Tar Heels wanted to hear in an attempt to catch up to the Blue Devils.

"I was trying to get [the referee's] attention because I thought I was getting fouled. I didn't mean to run into him or anything," said North Carolina Head Coach Sylvia Hatchell.

A hard swat down from Stevens blocked an attempted Carolina shot to leave only one minute remaining. With Stevens contributing 26 points and 14 rebounds, the Duke Blue Devils took the win, 71-55.

"When you get numbers like this, it really reminds you of what you can do, and that's a good thing," said Coach McCallie.

Watts contributed 13 for Carolina along with Cherry, who added 16 points to close out the Tar Heels.

Duke heads on the road to face Pittsburgh Thursday, January 28th. The North Carolina Tar Heels will continue their journey down Tobacco Road to face the final opponent in this neighborhood rivalry, the NC State Wolfpack on January 31st at 2 p.m.