|Kentucky's Samantha Drake (31) blocks a shot by Duke's Richa Jackson during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lexington, Ky., Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011. (AP Photo/James Crisp)|
No. 10 Kentucky women beat No. 6 Duke 72-65
LEXINGTON, Ky.—Bria Goss beamed. It was the guard's best game so far, but she was happier for all the attention on her fellow freshman roommate, Azia Bishop.
Bishop had 12 points and 11 rebounds, Goss added 19 points and No. 10 Kentucky beat No. 6 Duke 72-65 on Thursday night in front of the largest home crowd for a women's game in Wildcats history.
A'dia Mathies led the way with 23 points, but it was Bishop's unexpected play following a tough week of practice under coach Matthew Mitchell that propelled the Wildcats late.
"This is exactly how coach Mitchell wants her to play," Goss said. "This is how she plays. We see it in pickup. We see it in practice. We see it all the time. Now that she put it on the court in this type of game, it's amazing."
Kentucky (9-0) shook off a slow start with a second-half rally in front of 14,508 fans at Rupp Arena for its 29th straight nonconference home win. The Wildcats used their pressure defense to force the Blue Devils into a season-high 24 turnovers and made several clutch shots during an 8-0 run that sealed the victory.
"That's terrible," Duke coach Joanne McCallie said of the mistakes. "Twenty-four is terrible."
Elizabeth Williams scored 17 points for Duke (6-2), but the Blue Devils couldn't counter Kentucky after falling behind by 10 with just under 5 minutes to play.
Kentucky has feasted on lesser opponents, using its pressure to force 34.5 turnovers per game. This game featured two top-10 opponents in Lexington for the first time since 1983, when No. 6 Tennessee beat No. 4 Kentucky.
The game was moved to Rupp Arena instead of cozy, 8,000-seat Memorial Coliseum, and tickets went on sale for a $1. The move paid off with a raucous atmosphere in the 35-year-old facility.
"Great crowd. Fantastic job by people showing up tonight," Mitchell said. "I really, really appreciate that and I can't thank people enough."
With the Wildcats clinging to a two-point lead, Kastine Evans broke a double team in the corner with a pass underneath to Mathies for a layup. Goss followed with a 3-pointer from the left wing and Mathies added another 3 with the shot clock winding down to give Kentucky a 62-52 lead with 4:54 left.
That was all the Wildcats needed against the two-time reigning ACC champions, who cut it to 64-58 with 1:59 to play on two free throws by Chelsea Gray. They couldn't get any closer until Chloe Wells' layup with 14.5 seconds left made it 70-65.
"We were just off, and I think we were rushing everything," Gray said.
Haley Peters scored 13 points and Tricia Liston added 11 for Duke.
This was a signature win for Mitchell following a 20-point beating of in-state rival and then-No. 10 Louisville on Sunday. The Wildcats have an even stiffer test ahead. They play Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday before facing No. 3 Notre Dame on the road Dec. 18. Duke's only previous loss was by two points to Notre Dame.
"Hopefully we gained a lot more fans from the game," Mathies said. "I hope this gives us even more momentum going into another big game two games away from now against Notre Dame."
Kentucky turned up the tempo midway through the second half when Bishop grabbed two offensive rebounds and converted the putbacks before adding a layup to give Kentucky a 50-46 lead.
"I don't think I've seen that too much -- a player comes off the bench for a double-double," McCallie said. "In a game like this, a physical game like this, I would call her the player of the game and say, `Wow.'"
Duke matched its season high with its 20th turnover with just more than 12 minutes to play and never led again as the Wildcats kept up the pressure. The nation's leading team in turnover margin, Kentucky has forced 15 more than it has allowed per game and finished forcing eight more than it allowed against the Blue Devils.
"We aren't even to our full potential," Mathies said. "There is a lot more to come."
Duke controlled most of the first half and took a 26-18 lead with just under 6 minutes left, but Goss gave Kentucky its first lead in more than 16 minutes with a pair of free throws with 57 seconds to go in the half. The Blue Devils scored the final four points to make it 34-31 at the break.
It was the biggest halftime deficit for the Wildcats this season. It also was one that didn't last in Kentucky's first victory in four tries against Duke thanks to Bishop's inspired performance.
"The first eight games I really didn't work hard or hustle," Bishop said. "It just finally snapped. I've got to do that every game now."