Duke basketball rallies to beat North Carolina in ACC Tournament

Duke basketball guard Celeste Taylor (William Howard-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke basketball guard Celeste Taylor (William Howard-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke basketball team finally topped the North Carolina Tar Heels this season. 

Neither of the three matchups between the Duke basketball program and North Carolina Tar Heels have been easy on the eyes but the Blue Devils enjoyed its third matchup with its rival much more than the first two.

After sweeping the regular season with high turnover and poor shooting victories, North Carolina looked to be on the verge of capping off another victory against Kara Lawson’s team in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament when extending its lead to nine, 30-21, with 8:08 left in the third quarter.

However, the Blue Devils would turn up the pressure defensively and only allow the Tar Heels to score 10 total points over the final 18:00 of the game.

Mia Heide would tie the game with 1:02 left in the third before the ‘Heels would take a two point advantage into the fourth but nothing would go right from there for North Carolina.

Duke’s offense wasn’t much better but Elizabeth Balogun would put the Blue Devils in front for good, 42-40, with just 1:58 remaining and its defense would continue to stiffen and force five missed shots to close out the 44-40 victory.

North Carolina shot 24.2-percent from the floor (15-of-62) while committing 12 turnovers in its loss as Duke was not much better at just 32.0-percent (16-for-50) with 19 turnovers.

Duke basketball finds efficiency in ugly showing

Elizabeth Balogun led the way with 11 points but it was the efficiency of Reigan Richardson with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting to help the Blue Devils get to the finish line behind seven different scorers.

ALSO READ: Duke commit Mackenzie Mgbako explodes in championship

Deja Kelly, shooting 4-of-22, was the only North Carolina player to reach double figures with 11 points.

Duke will face Virginia Tech, the No. 3 seed, in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament on Saturday afternoon (2:30p.m ET, ACC Network) as the two teams split the regular season series, each winning on its home floor.