GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – It took almost everything Duke had – including Azura’ Stevens’ first game action in over a month – but the Blue Devils found a way to muscle past Virginia in the second round of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament.
The 6-foot-6 Stevens, sidelined since Feb. 1 with a foot injury, delivered 14 points and 15 rebounds in 36 minutes of action as Duke scrapped for a 57-53 win Thursday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum. Oderah Chidom, a 6-foot-4 junior, led the Blue Devils’ scoring with 20 points and pulled down nine boards.
In spite of Duke’s inside dominance, the Cavaliers kept pace with hustle plays and timely 3-point shooting. Back-to-back treys by J’Kyra Brown put Virginia in front 53-50 with 2:45 remaining before the Blue Devils closed the game with seven unanswered points.
With Duke clinging to a 55-53 lead and the game clock winding down, Mikayla Vinson launched a 3-pointer from the right corner that would have given the Cavaliers the lead – and quite possibly the win. But the shot missed its mark, and Chidom was fouled as she battled for the rebound. She made both free throws to seal the win for the Blue Devils.
Duke (20-11) moved to the quarterfinals and will face top-seeded and two-time defending champion Notre Dame (28-1) on Friday at 2 p.m.
Stevens’ double-double was the sophomore’s ACC-leading 23rd of her career and 13th this season. Chidom matched her career scoring high first set last Sunday in a win over North Carolina.
Aliyah Huland El went 3-of-5 from 3-point range and scored 16 points to lead Virginia (16-15). Lauren Moses and Faith Randolph scored 11 points each.
Fueled by a pair of 3-pointers by Huland El and a third by Randolph, Virginia jumped out to a 17-8 lead at the outset of the game. But the Blue Devils steadily counterattacked, regaining the lead at 25-24 on Stevens’ layup with 3:04 left in the half. Duke went on to maintain a one-point edge (30-29) at the break.
Chidom led the Blue Devils’ first-half scoring with 11 points, and Stevens had eight. Hulad El’s nine points paced Virginia through the first two quarters, and Moses scored eight.
Duke appeared set to take control when it pushed its lead to eight points in the closing minutes of the third quarter, but the Cavaliers refused to fold and took the Blue Devils to the limit before falling short in the second round of the tournament for the third straight year.