Duke must find way to solve Notre Dame to return to top of ACC
CONWAY, S.C. — If Notre Dame is to win a fourth straight ACC women’s basketball championship, it’s only fitting it will have to go through Duke to do it.
The Fighting Irish overcame foul trouble and 26 points from Louisville’s Asia Durr on Saturday to eliminate the Cardinals 84-73 in the first semifinal of the ACC tournament at HTC Center, Coastal Carolina’s cozy home arena.
Third-seeded Duke escaped Miami 57-52 in the afternoon’s second game to win its 10th straight. The Hurricanes (23-8), who upset second-seeded Florida State on Friday, looked primed to pull off another surprise behind 17 points from Keyona Hayes. Instead, the Blue Devils’ poise down the stretch, which included a 3-point play from Lexie Brown, lifted them to their first conference championship game since 2014.
The Fighting Irish (29-3) will be vying for a place alongside the Blue Devils (27-4) in ACC history on Sunday when the championship game tips off at 1 p.m. (ESPN2).
Remember when Duke owned this thing? From 2000 to 2004, everything ACC — regular-season and conference championships — belonged to the Blue Devils. They added tournament titles in 2010 and 2013, amassing eight overall.
The Irish can match it, and maybe even go one better: A win would give them five outright regular-season and conference titles in a row dating back to their final year in the Big East. To add more juice to the storyline, they were also the last team to beat the Blue Devils, a 62-58 victory in South Bend, Indiana, on Jan. 26.
Despite Notre Dame’s committing just five turnovers — impressive, especially considering starting…