DURHAM, N.C. – No. 5 Miami thought it had No. 7 Duke right where it wanted the Blue Devils. The Hurricanes just couldn't make enough shots down the stretch to beat them for the first time.
As a result, the No. 1 seed in next week's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament went to Duke — while Miami is the second seed once again.
The Blue Devils beat the Hurricanes 74-64 on Friday night, snapping their 13-game winning streak and keeping them winless in the series.
But this one was tighter than the final score indicated. After Miami cut Duke's late 14-point lead to three, the Hurricanes missed their final nine shots. Riquna Williams' layup with 4 minutes left was their only basket in the final 9½ minutes.
"Boy, we had the opportunities. We did at the end," Miami coach Katie Meier said. "We flipped the switch and we were Miami and the pressure was on them and you've got to make those magical plays."
Shenise Johnson, the ACC's leading scorer, had 18 points and Williams had 17 on 6-of-16 shooting for Miami (24-4, 13-2), which shot 33 percent. Williams' layup with 4 minutes remaining was the Hurricanes' only basket down the stretch.
Miami trailed 67-53 with 5½ minutes left but reeled off 11 straight points — all but two coming at the foul line — to make things tense for a while. Sylvia Bullock's free throw with 1:52 remaining pulled the Hurricanes to 67-64.
"Coach just emphasized that we have to keep the mannerisms throughout the whole game," Duke's Chelsea Gray said. "Highs or lows, just keep an even keel."
Gray followed with a driving layup with 1:15 left, and after two misses by Williams, Gray and Tricia Liston combined to hit five of seven free throws to seal it.
"It's hard to contain her," Johnson said of Gray. "One minute she's surveying, the next minute she's at the rim."
Elizabeth Williams scored 19 points, Gray added 12 points and nine assists and Haley Peters had 12 points for the Blue Devils (23-4, 14-1), who claimed the ACC's No. 1 seed for the third straight year.
Duke shot 48.5 percent, forced 21 turnovers and in what coach Joanne P. McCallie called "an awesome, awesome stat," outscored Miami 50-16 in the paint to extend its winning streak in ACC home games to 30.
"The games we're going to play now ... you don't blow people out. You might, but not really, and so I think our team was ready for anything that would happen," McCallie said. "I thought the team got back together and said, 'Enough. Let's focus.' And that leadership came from Chelsea and it came from Elizabeth, and it was important."
Stefanie Yderstrom finished with 16 points for Miami, the conference's second seed for the second straight year. The Hurricanes fell to 0-9 against Duke, and Meier — an All-American player for the Blue Devils — slipped to 0-8 against her alma mater during a coaching career that also includes a stint at Charlotte.
Facing the Blue Devils as a top-10 team for the first time — and taking on a Duke team that is without three starters — this figured to be the Hurricanes' best chance to beat them. Instead, it wound up being another empty trip to North Carolina's Triangle, the site of both of Miami's league losses. North Carolina beat the Hurricanes in January.
"We're not coming out of this game with our heads down at all," Meier said. "I thought we did what we needed to do. I'm very proud of our effort, very proud of the game plan. We wanted to hang around ... and then generate opportunities at the end. It was just how we scripted it."