No. 10 Duke women edge No. 13 UNC 66-61
Diamond DeShields nearly guided No. 13 North Carolina to its first three-game season sweep of No. 10 Duke in six years.
The Tar Heels' freshman star finished with 25 points but couldn't knock down the tying 3-pointer in the final seconds of the Blue Devils' 66-61 win in Saturday's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament semifinals.
DeShields, who made 10 of 25 shots and hit five 3-pointers, said she thought her final 3 was good.
"I was very confident in my shot when I took that one," she said. "But you know, things happen. I'm all right with it. I'll just work harder and be ready for the next game."
Still, it was another big performance against Duke for DeShields, who scored 30 points in UNC's win at Cameron Indoor Stadium then had 18 in last weekend's home win in the regular-season finale. In the three games, she averaged 24.3 points and hit 11 3-pointers.
"She's won us a lot of basketball games," associate head coach Andrew Calder said. "And in the end, she's going to have the basketball in her hands. She can shoot it or pass it, but she's going to have the ball in her hands. That's my loyalty to her, because she can make great plays. She's a great player. She's an all-American basketball player."
For Duke, Tricia Liston scored 17 points and Ka'lia Johnson hit the go-ahead free throws with 44.1 seconds left.
Johnson's two free throws broke a 60-all tie and helped the second-seeded Blue Devils (27-5) avoid a three-game sweep by their fiercest rival. Duke went made all six of its free throws in the final minute of a tight game, holding off DeShields and the sixth-seeded Tar Heels (24-9).
Oderah Chidom hit two free throws to make it 64-61 with 17.5 seconds left, then hit two more after DeShields' final miss with 9.2 seconds left to seal Duke's trip to Sunday's championship to face No. 2 Notre Dame.
Liston made just two shots after halftime, but the second was a huge 3-pointer at the 2:02 mark to cut the Tar Heels' lead to 59-58. Then, after Xylina McDaniel's free throw, Elizabeth Williams scored on a stickback to tie the game at 60 with 1:18 left.