Duke Pulls Away From North Carolina, 81-66, to Claim Seventh #ACCwbb Championship

March 6, 2011

GREENSBORO, NC - In a game worthy of one of the best rivalries in college athletics, the top-seeded Duke Blue Devils defeated the sixth-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels 81-66 Sunday afternoon to win the 2011 ACC Women's Basketball Championship.

The game featured 12 ties and nine lead changes before No. 7 Duke used a 15-0 run to pull away from the 19th-ranked Tar Heels down the stretch. North Carolina, which was playing its fourth game in as many days, went more than eight minutes without a field goal in the second half and Duke took advantage of dominance on the boards to secure the victory. The Blue Devils outrebounded UNC, 38-27, including a 24-11 margin on the boards in the second period.

"I'm really proud of our seniors," Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "I'm really proud of our team. This was a fantastic opportunity for Duke. It was a terrific tournament as always with great fan support, and the opportunity to get a whole lot better."

Tournament Most Valuable Player Jasmine Thomas notched her fifth 20-point game of the season, leading the Blue Devils with 21 points. Karima Christmas, who joined Thomas on the first team All-Tournament team, added 12 points and nine rebounds while freshman Haley Peters contributed 14 points. Freshman Chelsea Gray, a second-team All-Tournament Team selection, added eight points, five rebounds and five assists.

"Great players take charge," McCallie said. "I thought we had terrific leadership by Jasmine Thomas. Karima was terrific. Krystal (Thomas) was playing so aggressive. We had some young players step up like Chelsea Gray, Haley Peters and others. I thought Chloe Wells was terrific off the bench."

"It's not the end of the world," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said. "I'm proud of our team. We played real hard for four days."

A day after setting her season high with 28 points, senior Jessica Breland once again paced the Tar Heels. She led all players with 27 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Italee Lucas joined Breland on the All-Tournament first team with 11 points in the final while Chay Shegog scored 10 for the Tar Heels.

Duke, which also won the 2010 title, claimed its seventh ACC championship. The Blue Devils improved to 29-3, earning the ACC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. North Carolina fell to 25-8.  

Game 11 Notes:

Duke won its seventh tournament title overall, all since 2000. The Blue Devils have a tournament record of 28-5 in the Greensboro Coliseum. North Carolina and Maryland are tied for the most titles, with nine apiece.

Sunday's game was the eighth meeting between Duke and North Carolina in the championship game. Duke has a 5-3 advantage in those games.

The No. 1 seed has won 10 of the past 11 tournaments. All but one of Duke's tournament titles came when the Blue Devils were the No. 1 seed. In 2000, Duke was the No. 2 seed and defeated No. 4 North Carolina.

Duke has played in 10 of the past 12 title games and the last four in a row, winning the last three.

Duke made 20 of 41 3-pointers (48.8 percent) in the tournament, its best showing in the tournament and the best by any team in the tournament in eight years. The last team to shoot a higher percentage was North Carolina in 2003 (24 of 48, 50 percent).

With 21 points in the championship game, Duke guard Jasmine Thomas surpassed her point total for the Blue Devils' first two tournament games combined. Thomas had eight and 12 points in the first two games. The 21 points matches her career best for points in an ACC Tournament game.

Haley Peters' 14 points in the title game was the second time she reached double figures for Duke in the tournament. It represented her most points in a game since scoring 15 against Miami on Feb. 3.

UNC forward Jessica Breland set an all-time tournament record for field goals, making 32 in the tournament, including 11 in the championship game. Breland broke the record of Clemson's Barbara Kennedy, who had 27 field goals in three games of the 1981 tournament. Breland set the record in four games; her three-game total of 21 was tied for third all-time before Sunday's final.

Breland's 11 field goals in the title game were the most by any player in the final since Nikki Teasley of UNC made 12 shots in 2000.

UNC center Chay Shegog tied the tournament record for blocked shots with seven. Duke is 38-27 all-time in the tournament. The Blue Devils rank fourth in tournament wins behind North Carolina (54 before its Saturday semifinal), Maryland (46) and NC State (39).

Since 2000, no team has more tournament victories than Duke (29). UNC is second with 22, and Maryland was third with 12. UNC's all-time record is 54-25.