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March 7, 2010
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The eighth-ranked Duke Blue Devils claimed the 2010 Atlantic Coast Conference Women's Basketball Championship with a 70-60 victory over NC State Sunday afternoon in the Greensboro Coliseum. It was the sixth ACC championship for the Blue Devil women, but their first since winning five straight from 2000-04.
“I’m so proud of this team, the way this team has worked so hard,” said Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie. “This was a tough tournament, tough games that we played. We rebounded today. We shared the ball today. Different people stepped up. Our seniors, Joy Cheek and Keturah Jackson and Bridgette Mitchell, did a fantastic job. Jasmine Thomas has been so steady for us, as well as Karima Christmas and others. We’re working on getting better and I think we did today.”
Sixth-seeded NC State opened the game with a 9-2 run, but top-seeded Duke countered with a 14-0 streak of its own and never looked back. The Blue Devils extended a five-point halftime lead to 15 during the first four and a half minutes of the second period and led by 18 with eight minutes remaining.
The Wolfpack didn’t give up, cutting the lead to nine with three minutes remaining. The powerful Duke squad withstood the effort as it won for the ninth time in the last 10 games. Duke owned a 46-32 advantage on the boards in an aggressive, defensive contest that featured a combined 43 turnovers and 41 fouls.
“We came in here, we were focused, we gutted out every win and it just feels good to finally – after the third year – come home with a championship,” said Thomas, the ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player. “NC State is a very passionate team. They play hard to the end and we knew they weren’t going to go away. We knew we had to keep attacking and keep playing the best defense we could. Brittany Strachan hit some big threes for them at the end, but when it came down to it, we controlled the game.”
Thomas paced Duke, registering 18 points, six assists and six rebounds. Fellow All-Tournament first-team members Christmas and Cheek scored 13 and 11, respectively. Christmas also tallied four of Duke’s 15 steals while Cheek grabbed seven rebounds.
After falling in the tournament championship game the last two years, Duke gave third-year coach McCallie her first ACC championship. She became the first coach to lead teams to four conference titles in four different conferences.
NC State senior Nikitta Gartrell recorded a game-high 19 points, seven rebounds and three assists as she earned first-team all-tournament honors. Bonae Holston joined her on the all-tournament team with a 14-point, six-rebound performance for the Wolfpack.