RALEIGH Unfortunately for North Carolina’s opponents, Diamond DeShields is only a freshman.
Because she has gone into two of the toughest situations in the country over the past seven days, frustrating near-sellout road crowds by putting on a show in holding off the Tar Heels’ two most bitter rivals.
And Sunday at Reynolds Coliseum she scored a season-high 38 points, leading the No. 17 Tar Heels to an 89-82 win against No. 10 N.C. State and putting a damper on the Wolfpack’s annual “Hoops4Hope” breast-cancer awareness game.
UNC, which got 30 points from DeShields in its 89-78 shocker over then-No. 3 Duke on Monday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium, swept the regular-season series with the Wolfpack and beat N.C. State for the sixth straight time.
The Tar Heels (20-6, 8-4) won 79-70 on Jan. 9 at Carmichael Arena.
N.C. State State (22-4, 9-3) lost for the first time in 14 games at Reynolds Coliseum this season.
“N.C. State is a well-coached team that did a lot of good things on the floor tonight,” said UNC assistant Andrew Calder, who has run the team this season as head coach Sylvia Hatchell is treated for leukemia. “We played really well. We kept battling and came back after they got the lead.
“DeShields was unbelievable. We weren’t even sure she was going to play. She got injured (leg) on the very first drill on the very first step and missed practice (Saturday). … Her offensive skills are amazing, but when she wants to defend she can really defend. And she has a basketball IQ that is amazing.”
DeShields was 5-for-9 outside the 3-point arc and 9-for-9 from the free-throw line. Classmate Allisha Gray added 18 points including 5-for-7 from outside the arc for UNC, which shot 55.4 percent to the Wolfpack’s 41.3 and won despite being outrebounded 40-30.
N.C. State State had four players in double figures as seniors Kody Burke had 18, Markeisha Gatling 15, Myisha Goodwin-Coleman 13 and junior guard Len’nique Brown chipped in 12.
“I was pleased with our kids’ effort,” first-year Wolfpack coach Wes Moore said. “If you’d told me before the game we’d have 25 offensive rebounds and outscore them 27-10 on second-chance points I would have felt pretty good.
“But give them credit. They knocked down a lot of shots. DeShields was phenomenal. They hit 13 3s and we hit five and that was a big factor in the outcome.”
N.C. State State led for much of the second half before the Tar Heels took the lead for good on a DeShields 3-pointer to make it 65-63 with 8 minutes, 25 seconds to go.
“I love playing on the road,” said DeShields, who also scored 19 points in just 23 minutes in a 36-point rout Thursday of Pittsburgh. “It used to be hard for me, and I’ve learned to embrace it in these tough environments.
“At the end of the day it’s all love to me. I want to make believers out of everybody. Anyone who doubts me, I want you after the game to respect me and say ‘She played a hell of a game.’ ”
The Wolfpack cut it to 80-78 on a three-point play from Burke with 1:03 to go, but DeShields scored seven of the final nine UNC points to ice the outcome.
“Diamond made some tough shots,” Burke said. “We did our very best on her, but she’s just a great player. Give her credit. When she and Allisha Gray hit like five 3s in a row, things are just going their way. We didn’t leave anybody open. They just knocked down tough shots. I feel like we really did all we could. We played one of our best games.”
The Wolfpack led 40-39 at halftime, with Krystal Barrett the leading scorer with eight points. DeShields’ 11 led UNC.
The Tar Heels shot 51.7 percent in the first half to N.C. State State’s 36.7. But the Wolfpack led the board battle 21-16 and hit 17 of 20 free throws in the half to UNC’s 4-for-5.
UNC led by as many as 11 points, at 25-14, on a Jessica Washington 3-pointer at 10:46. But the Wolfpack came back to take the lead for the first time since the opening minute after Brown’s steal and layup with 25 seconds left in the half.
N.C. State’s next game will be at 6 p.m. Thursday at No. 3 Duke. UNC will travel to Virginia the same night.
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