Devils You Don't Know

Duke basketball fans have gotten behind their women's team in typically rabid fashion
February 06, 2006

THE GAME atDuke's Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday wasn't just any showdown between hatedrivals, it was the battle of the last two unbeaten teams in college basketball,the No. 2 Duke and No. 3 North Carolina women's teams. All 9,314 seats werefilled, and the Cameron Crazies were in full throat, jumping up and down andmangling the name of Tar Heels junior point guard Ivory Latta as they chanted"Lotta Nothing." They also passed around flyers with pictures of formerUNC star Rashad McCants and his little sister, Rashanda, who is a freshman forthe Tar Heels. "She looks exactly like him with a wig on," says Dukesophomore Steve Lubin, who lined up at the door seven hours before tipoff."We tried to exploit that."

Big, raucousstudent sections are still a rarity in women's basketball, but just as they doin the men's game, the Dukies set the standard--at least at the majorshowdowns. Last week against then No. 1 Tennessee they rattled the Lady Vols ina 75-53 Duke rout. On Sunday night the noise level was the same, the resultsdifferent. For the fourth straight meeting, the Tar Heels beat Duke with theirexhausting athleticism, their pressing, trapping, switching defenses and theirdevastating transition game. Down by 13 at halftime, the Heels got hot on theoffensive end in the second half, scoring on 14 of their last 16 possessionswhile simultaneously turning up the defensive pressure to beat Duke 74-70."Our defensive intensity in the second half was the difference," saidTar Heels forward Erlana Larkins, whose game-high 23 points included her secondand third treys of the year. "As always, it feels really good to beatDuke."

The Tar Heels arenow No. 1 for the first time in history. But you wouldn't know it back on theircampus, where the women's game is not so passionately followed. A win over Dukein men's basketball would result in revelers flooding onto Franklin Street inChapel Hill to throw toilet paper into the trees. When the Tar Heels womendrove back to campus on Sunday night, however, Franklin Street was quiet. CoachSylvia Hatchell asked the bus driver to stop. She and a few players got out,rolls of TP in hand, and papered the trees themselves.

PHOTOBILL FRAKES FEELING BLUE Larkins sent the Crazies home disappointed for the fourth time in a row.