Duke coach Kara Lawson lamented not having her full roster available to play or practice when she addressed the media on Wednesday. By Thursday night’s game against North Carolina, Lawson was one of the missing.
The Blue Devils’ coach still hasn’t participated in her team’s rivalry with UNC after sitting out Thursday’s game due to health and safety protocols. Unless she suited up to play, it may not have mattered anyway, as the Tar Heels ran away to a 78-62 victory in Cameron Indoor Stadium to snap a three-game road losing streak.
Carolina (16-3, 6-3 ACC) erased the problems that had plagued them during consecutive road losses at N.C. State, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. UNC combined for 50 turnovers in those three games. Against the Blue Devils, it only had two through the first three quarters and finished with a season-low five.
The Heels had three of their worst shooting performances in those three road losses — shooting a combined 29 percent from the field. But they torched Duke by shooting 54 percent in the first half — including going 12-for-16 in the second quarter — and finished at 45 percent.
Carlie Littlefield’s four-point play gave UNC a 19-18 at the end of the first quarter. Then the Tar Heels took over in the second.
Carolina converted eight Duke turnovers in the period into 15 points. When Kennedy Todd-Williams drilled a jumper at the buzzer, the Heels took their biggest lead of the game into halftime 47-26.
That allowed UNC to overcome an off-shooting game from leading scorer Deja Kelly, who entered the game averaging 18.0 points in ACC play. Kelly missed her first five shots of the game and never got into a rhythm. Even when she did knock down a 3-pointer in the third quarter as the shot clock went off, it was later taken away when officials reviewed the replay. Kelly finished with seven points.
Duke was without its second leading scorer Celeste Taylor, who missed her fifth straight game due to an injured shoulder.
After the first quarter, the Blue Devils never got into a rhythm offensively. Duke’s Shayeann Day-Wilson picked up her second foul less than two minutes into the second quarter when she was called for a charge.
Day-Wilson, who averages a team-best 12.0 points per game, shot just 3-for-16 from the field and had 10. Miela Goodchild, Duke’s 40 percent 3-point shooter, missed her first seven attempts from behind the arc. She made three in the fourth quarter, but by then it was too late.