Heels take down Duke with offensive assault

DURHAM, N.C. - Near the end of the first half, the Cameron Crazies -- in an apparent fit of potato chip-inspired trash talk -- regaled North Carolina forward LaToya Pringle with a chant of "Lay's are better!"

But Pringle and No. 3 North Carolina got the last laugh, rolling past ninth-ranked Duke 93-76.

After getting swept last year by the Blue Devils, the Tar Heels were looking for some revenge, too.

"I'm not used to losing," Pringle said. "It's not something that happens to Carolina basketball."

It did happen to the Tar Heels earlier this season against Tennessee and Connecticut, so they wanted to make sure it didn't happen against Duke.

And now that they own victories against Duke and Maryland, UNC is firmly in control of the ACC race.

Duke came into the game with the ACC's top scoring defense, giving up an average of 55.5 points per game.

But the Tar Heels, who lead the nation in scoring, made quick work of that mark, eclipsing it in the opening minutes of the second half.

The Blue Devils tried everything -- zone defense, trapping, full-court pressure -- but couldn't stop the Tar Heels.

In the end, Carolina got its most points in Cameron Indoor Stadium since 1997, its most points against Duke since 1995 and its biggest win in Cameron since a 21-point victory in 1993.

"I would call that very bad defense, and they were opportunistic," Duke coach Joanne McCallie said. "We didn't do anything to change the tempo when they were being aggressive.

"We cannot be giving up 93 points -- I don't care who we play."

Inside, Duke did manage to limit Erlana Larkins to 13 points, but Pringle and point guard Cetera DeGraffenreid each had 18, while Pringle also added 11 rebounds.

The attention on Larkins certainly helps Pringle, who has had a breakout season.

"Toya just keeps doing her thing," UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell said.

DeGraffenreid, a freshman, was also huge for the Tar Heels in holding off the relentless Duke defense and keeping her composure in the hostile environment.

While she only had one assist, she consistently drove on the Duke defense, getting to the basket -- and to the line. DeGraffenreid was 8 for 9 on free throws, and also hit a pair of 3-pointers as the Blue Devils respected her ability to get into the paint.

"Growing up, this is one of the games you're ready for," DeGraffenreid said. "Now that it's here, it's everything I dreamed of."

While the Tar Heels' point guard was living a dream, it was a nightmare for the Blue Devils, who have now lost to the nation's top four teams.

It hurt them even more to have the game be a blowout.

And at the end of the game, Pringle once again found herself getting the better of the crowd as they razzed UNC forward Jessica Breland for air-balling a free-throw in the final seconds.

As the Crazies hooted, Pringle shook her head and pointed up at the scoreboard.

Up there, there was no doubt who the winner was.

Player of the Game:
Yes, DeGraffenreid had four turnovers and just one assist, but her relative consistency -- and her ability to confound the Duke defense -- was absolutely crucial to the Tar Heels winning this game.

Play of the Game:
Late in the first half, Pringle dove into a passing lane to make a steal on her knees. The Tar Heels ran down the court, and Pringle was the last to get there. But no one guarded her when she arrived, so she took advantage of the open look and sank her first career 3-pointer.

Quote of the Game:
"There's a lot of ways to get the milk in the jug."
-Hatchell, on Pringle's 3-pointer

Up Next:
The Tar Heels return home to host Clemson on three days rest.

The Blue Devils, also on three days rest, will travel north to take on Boston College.

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