No. 6 Duke women claim ACC crown by beating UNC

Last Updated: Sun, Mar 10, 2013 20:45 hrs

Freshman Alexis Jones scored a career-high 24 points and No. 6 Duke claimed its eighth Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title by routing No. 15 North Carolina 92-73 on Sunday in the championship game.

Elizabeth Williams also had 24 points and Haley Peters scored 17 for the top-seeded Blue Devils (30-2).

Duke led by as many as 26, shot nearly 57 percent and outrebounded North Carolina by six to cruise to its third title in four years.

Tierra Ruffin-Pratt had 25 points to lead the third-seeded Tar Heels (28-6).

UNC missed 25 of 28 shots as the deficit swelled to the 20s, was denied its 10th crown and lost its seventh straight in the series.

Williams reached double figures for the 19th straight time against an ACC opponent and set a league record by blocking a shot in her 65th straight game.

The most lopsided ACC title game since North Carolina beat Duke by 21 in 2005 capped an otherwise tight four days in Greensboro. In nine of the first 10 games, the outcome of was in serious doubt heading down the stretch. But Duke never led by fewer than 16 during the final 17 minutes of this one.

Both of Jones' best games have come against the Tar Heels: She hung 22 points on them eight days earlier at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

She put the Blue Devils up by 20 for the first time with a free throw with 17:21 left, and a few seconds later, she made the Tar Heels look silly by stealing the ensuing inbounds pass and converting a layup to make it 49-26.

That had Duke well on its way to improving to 6-1 without Chelsea Gray, the ACC co-player of the year whose season is over because of a knee injury.

The Blue Devils won by 21 points last month in Chapel Hill and beat UNC 65-58 last week in Durham. The two teams met for the ninth time in an ACC title game, with eight of those coming since 2000, and Duke improved to 6-3 in those matchups.

The Blue Devils also moved to 5-0 this season against their archrivals in men's and women's basketball.

In this one, Duke erased an early six-point deficit with a 29-6 run over an 11-minute stretch late in the half, a burst that included streaks of 11 and 14 consecutive points.

Williams scored nine points during the spurt, starting it with a three-point play with 11:48 left and capping it with a jumper with about 42 seconds remaining to make the score 39-22.

Latifah Coleman and Walteia Rolle added 10 points apiece for North Carolina. The Tar Heels, who missed 19 consecutive shots in their visit to Durham a week ago, went cold again — missing on 15 of their final 17 attempts of the half as they fell way behind.


Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at (at)JoedyAP.

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