CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP)Elizabeth Balogun scored 12 points, Taya Corosdale had 10 and No. 9 Duke survived a stern test from Virginia, 56-52, on Sunday.
The Blue Devils (22-4, 13-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) led only 47-45 with just over eight minutes left, but Celeste Taylor hit a 3-pointer from right in front of the Duke bench to make it a five-point game, starting a 7-2 run that gave them some breathing room and they held on.
”I thought Virginia made things really hard for us,” Blue Devils coach Kara Lawson said. ”I don’t really know what to say, to be honest with you. … This one wasn’t easy, but at the end they did enough to finish it with a win.”
Taylor Valladay led Virginia (15-12, 4-12) with 19 points and McKenna Dale had 10. The Cavaliers had split their last six meetings with the Blue Devils after ending a 26-game losing streak in the series, but still lost for the 30th time in the last 33 meetings.
”A game like this one hurts, obviously, to be four points away and that’s a top 10 team in the country,” first-year Virginia coach Amaka Agugua-Hamilton said. ”There’s a lot to be proud of, but at the same time, we knew we had an opportunity right there and it kind of slipped away.”
The victory assured Duke of maintaining at least a share of first place in the conference. They are tied with No. 10 Notre Dame, which beat Pittsburgh.
The Blue Devils started the third quarter with a trio of 3-pointers in a 9-2 run that built their lead to 42-29, but they then went nearly five minutes without scoring as the Cavaliers ran off 10 straight. The Blue Devils had four of their 18 turnovers during the drought.
”Ball security, I can’t say, has been a great strength of ours. If you look at just us, statistically, it’s something we struggle with,” Lawson said. ”I thought we tried to squeeze the ball into too tight of windows and tried to make home run passes when we just needed to make the simple play.”
The Cavaliers played with just eight available players because their second- and third-leading scorers (Mir McLean, 12.2, and Sam Brunelle, 10.0) are out for the rest of season with injuries.
”You just can’t get down to teams like that, good teams like that. But I was proud of our fight,” Agugua-Hamilton said.
Duke’s last turnover came with 16 seconds left when, after a timeout, they were whistled for a five-second call for failing to inbound the ball. Lawson’s message to the team during the timeout?
”Not to get a five second call,” she said.
Duke: The Blue Devils were sometimes very sloppy with the ball, committing 18 turnovers that the Cavaliers turned into 22 points. They made up for it by hitting eight of 18 3-point tries and their reserves outscored Virginia’s 19-7.
Virginia: The university honored letter-winners from its first three women’s teams, including the 1973-74 basketball team, with a luncheon before the game and during a halftime ceremony as part of National Girl and Women in Sports Day.
Duke: Plays N.C. State at home Thursday night.
Virginia: On the road at Clemson Thursday night.
AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25