DURHAM, N.C. – Jasmine Thomas scored 24 points and No. 3 Duke used a late surge to stay unbeaten with a 54-48 win over No. 10 Kentucky on Tuesday night.
Freshman Chelsea Gray added 11 points and made the go-ahead layup off a defender's fingers with 39.9 seconds left. Thomas was 8 of 24 from the field but hit four free throws in the final 14.7 seconds to seal the win for the Blue Devils (14-0).
They used a 52-36 rebounding advantage to overcome both 17 turnovers and 26.5 percent shooting to keep themselves among the four undefeated teams in Division I and extend their winning streak at Cameron Indoor Stadium to 16.
Keyla Snowden scored 15 points and Victoria Dunlap added 10 for the Wildcats (11-2), who were held to a season-low point total, matched a season high with 22 turnovers and had their six-game winning streak snapped.
This was the latest in a string of early-season nonconference top-10 tests at home for the Blue Devils, who beat then-No. 7 Texas A&M by three points last month before topping then-No. 4 Xavier by one — both behind dramatic performances from Thomas.
The gaudy offensive numbers weren't there for much of the way in this one, but once again, she came through with a series of timely plays.
She blocked Snowden's layup with less than 2 minutes left, hit a jumper from the free throw line to tie it at 48 with 1:30 left and pressured Snowden into a turnover with about a minute remaining to set up Gray's winner. Gray drove the left baseline and flung up a layup that was tipped in by Samantha Drake, putting Duke up 50-48.
After the Blue Devils forced a stop on Kentucky's following trip downcourt, Thomas hit a free throw to make it a three-point game and then blocked Snowden's tying 3 with about 9 seconds left and added 3 of 4 free throws the rest of the way.
Dunlap, the Southeastern Conference player of the year last season, was held to half her scoring average. But she helped Kentucky rally from a nine-point halftime deficit by holding Duke without a field goal for nearly 8 minutes. The Wildcats forced 12 straight misses before freshman Tricia Liston hit a 3 with just over 12 minutes left for the Blue Devils' first basket of the half.
That came after Kentucky had a couple of serious droughts of its own. The Wildcats were held to one field goal in an early 7-minute stretch, then went without a basket for the final 8½ minutes of the half — both eternities for a team that averages more than 80 points.
The Blue Devils led 31-22 at the break after closing the half on a 13-2 run keyed by Thomas. She hit three baskets in a 90-second span to bounce back from a 1-for-10 shooting start. That finished off an ugly opening 20 minutes in which the teams combined for 29 turnovers.
Both teams face quick turnarounds before their conference openers. The Blue Devils play host to No. 14 Maryland on Thursday night in the renewal of one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's fiercest rivalries, while the Wildcats visit Arkansas the same night.