The Carolina-blue takeover of Cameron was amazing for big women’s hoops win over Duke

By R.L. Bynum

DURHAM — You couldn’t blame Duke’s players if they did a few double-takes Sunday during their senior-day women’s basketball game against North Carolina.

The overwhelming majority of the sellout crowd of 9,314 fans in Cameron Indoor Stadium wore Duke blue, but the folks in Carolina blue were loud and all but nullified the Blue Devils’ home-court advantage. The 45–41 win completed UNC’s second consecutive regular-season sweep of its rivals.

It was more evidence that the UNC fanbase is embracing Coach Courtney Banghart’s program as it continues to rise to one of the best in the country. Her team drew more than 5,000 fans at Carmichael Arena twice this season, including a sellout crowd of 6,319 for the N.C. State game.

“I don’t know how many exactly were here from Carolina, but there was a lot of Carolina blue in the stands,” said Banghart, whose No. 18 team (20–9) faces the Clemson-Pittsburgh winner in the second round of the ACC Tournament at 6 p.m. Thursday. “We’re just so grateful.”

My courtside press-row seat was on the opposite side of the Carolina bench, with the standard large group with players’ and coaches’ families and many school personnel behind them.

Behind me, though, was a large group of Carolina fans in seats normally filled for men’s games by the rowdy Cameron Crazies.

For one afternoon, there were Carolina Crazies.

“They were doing their starting lineups in their gym, and it was ‘Tar … Heels,’ and it was awesome. So that was kind of neat,” Banghart said Monday on her radio show.

In the first half, while Duke was on offense in front of me, the loud chants of “DE-FENSE” and “air ball” taunts were the sort of sounds teams usually only hear on the road. But for the Blue Devils players, it was on their home court.

“We had so many fans and across the way that it didn’t even matter that there were other people there,” Banghart said. “And they were loud. Sometimes women’s basketball fans are told that they are quiet. Not ours, man. They were guns a blazin’. I’m sure it was really fun to be there. It was unbelievable.”

Several times during the game, the fans behind me would chant “Tar,” with the Carolina contingent behind UNC’s bench responding, “Heels!” Again, this wasn’t a game at Carmichael Arena, it just seemed like it.


Soon after redshirt freshman Kayla McPherson hauled down the final rebound and celebrated with obvious joy on her face, the players all rushed to the edge of press row, just to my right, to thank that group of Carolina fans, celebrate with them and exchange some high-fives.

After the Duke pep band finished playing the school’s alma mater, it didn’t matter that there was no UNC pep band at Cameron. The Carolina fans spontaneously struck up an a cappella rendition of “Hark the Sound.” It, of course, finished with the signature chant of telling Duke where to go. It probably felt hellish for many Blue Devil fans, anyway.

Staring ahead in silence just to their right, with his arms folded, was one fan in a Duke jersey. He had to wonder if he was really in Cameron Indoor Stadium.

The large number of Carolina fans not only made a difference but got the attention of the television audience since they were on camera all game. Those noticing included former Duke women’s star Elizabeth Williams, who didn’t understand how this happened.

Could the Greensboro Coliseum become Carmichael West this week for the ACC Tournament? That would be no surprise.

ACC Tournament

Greensboro Coliseum
Final on ESPN; all other games on ACC Network
Wednesday’s first round
No. 12-seed Wake Forest 68, vs. No. 13-seed Virginia (15–15) 57
No. 10 Clemson 71, No. 15 Pittsburgh (10–20) 53
No. 11 Boston College 62, No. 14 Georgia Tech (13–16) 57
Thursday’s second round
Wake Forest 65, No. 5 Florida State (23–9) 54
No. 8 N.C. State 83, No. 9 Syracuse (18–12) 58
No. 7 North Carolina 68, vs. Clemson (17–14) 58
No. 6 Miami 84, vs. Boston College (16–16) 69
Friday’s quarterfinals
No. 4 Louisville 74, Wake Forest (16–16) 48
No. 1 Notre Dame 66, N.C. State (20–11) 60
No. 2 Duke 44, North Carolina (21–10) 40
No. 3 Virginia Tech 68, Miami (19–11) 42
Saturday’s semifinals
Louisville 64, Notre Dame (25–5) 38
Virginia Tech 58, Duke (25–6) 37
Sunday’s final
Virginia Tech (26–4) 75, Louisville (23–11) 67

(current ranking)
9WednesdayW, 91–59Jackson StateHome1–0
12SaturdayW, 75–48TCUHome2–0
16WednesdayW, 93–25South Carolina StateHome3–0
20SundayW, 76–65James MadisonHarrisonburg, Va.4–0
Phil Knight Invitational
24ThursdayW, 85–79OregonPortland5–0
27SundayW, 73–64No. 17 Iowa State Portland6–0
DecemberACC/Big Ten Challenge
1ThursdayL, 87–63No. 2 IndianaBloomington, Ind.6–1
7WednesdayW, 64–42UNCWHome7–1
11SundayW, 99–67WoffordHome8–1
16FridayW, 89–47USC UpstateHome9–1
Jumpman Invitational
20TuesdayL, 76–68No. 18 MichiganCharlotte9–2
ACC season begins
29ThursdayL, 78–71Florida StateHome9–3, 0–1 ACC
1SundayL, 68–65No. 4
Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Va.9–4, 0–2 ACC
5ThursdayL, 62–58MiamiCoral Gables, Fla.9–5, 0–3 ACC
8SundayW, 60–50No. 10
Notre Dame
1–3 ACC
12ThursdayW, 70–59VirginiaCharlottesville, Va.11–5,
2–3 ACC
15SundayW, 56–47N.C. StateHome12–5,
3–3 ACC
19ThursdayW, 61–56No. 13 DukeHome13–5,
4–3 ACC
22SundayW, 70–57Georgia TechHome14–5,
5–3 ACC
26ThursdayW, 72–57PittsburghPittsburgh15–5,
6–3 ACC
29SundayW, 69–58ClemsonClemson16–5,
7–3 ACC
2ThursdayW, 73–62VirginiaHome17–5,
8–3 ACC
5SundayL, 62–55LouisvilleLouisville17–6,
8–4 ACC
9ThursdayL, 75–67SyracuseSyracuse17–7,
8–5 ACC
12SundayW, 73–55Boston CollegeHome18–7,
9–5 ACC
16ThursdayL, 77–66, OTN.C. StateRaleigh18–8,
9–6 ACC
19SundayW, 71–58Wake ForestHome19–8,
10–6 ACC
23ThursdayL, 61–59No. 4
Virginia Tech
10–7 ACC
26SundayW, 45–41No. 13 DukeDurham20–9,
10–8 ACC
MarchACC Tournament
2ThursdayW, 68–58Clemson Greensboro21–9
3FridayL, 44–40No. 13 Duke Greensboro21–10
NCAA tournament
18SaturdayW, 61–59 St. John’sColumbus, Ohio22–10
20MondayL, 71–69No. 12 Ohio State Columbus, Ohio22–11

Top photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications


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