GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Duke Blue Devils made sure there were no more remarkable second-half comebacks in the 2013 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament.
The top-seeded Devils shot 57 percent from the floor – the best effort by any finalist since 1984 – to build on a 15-point halftime lead and earn a 92-73 victory over No. 3 North Carolina in the 36th annual championship. The Blue Devils’ excellence from start to finish muted the Tar Heels’ hopes of repeating the second-half performance they displayed in wiping out a 14-point deficit at the break to upend No. 2 Maryland in Saturday’s semifinals.
Perhaps even more encouraging for Duke is its 6-1 record since the season-ending knee injury to Chelsea Gray, its All-American point guard. In her absence, Alexis Jones has stepped in and has been brilliant. On Sunday, she became the first freshman to win tournament MVP honors since another Blue Devil, Monique Currie, in 2002. All she did Sunday was contribute 24 points and eight rebounds to a balanced attack.
“We’re fortunate to have great players at Duke,” McCallie said. “Nobody will ever know what we would have been with Chelsea at this juncture, and that’s very sad. But Alexis is stepping up for us, and right now, there are things we can’t control. We can’t control the fact that Chelsea can’t play. But Alexis is amazing.”
Forward Elizabeth Williams joined Jones with 24 points and eight boards and Haley Peters hit her first seven shots before missing her final attempt and fouling out. Her stints were interrupted by the foul issues, but Peters didn’t seem bothered.
“It wasn’t a big deal, really,” she said. “We were moving the ball well. It’s easy to fit back in with all the poise we have.”