DURHAM, N.C. – The 15th-ranked Duke Blue Devils shut down the 17th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats and posted a 69-54 win at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Thursday.
Guard Lexie Brown totaled 24 points and three other Blue Devils reached double figures as Duke extended its overall record to 12-1.
Brown’s season-high finish, that included four 3s, led the Blue Devils while Oderah Chidom chipped in 11 points to go along with 10 each from Rebecca Greenwell from Kendall Cooper.
Greenwell added 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the season and ninth of her career.
“It was kind of an ugly game,” Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie said.
“It wasn’t that everything was going our way all the time and we had to create things. I credit the guards and the post working together on that and just making sure that we controlled the tempo, which I thought we did. I don’t think we ever lost the tempo. We were able to get some good shots and some good looks.”
With Duke leading 37-32 at halftime, the 4,121 in attendance celebrated the jersey retirement of four-time All-America Elizabeth Williams, currently playing for the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream, as her No. 1 was raised to the rafters during the break.
The final two periods were all Duke as Kentucky (9-4) was minimized to 18 percent shooting in the third followed by a final period during which the Wildcats went 0-for-16 from the field.
Brown kept up her pace and hit a school-record 38th straight free throw early in the fourth, finishing at a perfect 8-of-8 from the line on the night.
“I think it is cool that our team can change to so many defenses throughout the game,” Brown said.
“I think we are a defensive-minded team and we take pride in practicing defense each day in practice. We take pride in getting stops on defense. We take stopping each team personally on defense and I thought that we did that tonight.”
The Blue Devils’ 48 percent shooting (24-of-50) from the floor outpaced the Wildcats’ 30-percent conversion rate (18-of-60).
Taylor Murray led Kentucky’s offense with 18 points along with 12 from Makayla Epps and 11 from Maci Morris.
“I was extremely pleased that we held them to 16 percent shooting and 18 percent shooting in the third and fourth quarters,” McCallie said.
“That’s a strong finish. That’s good. You want to finish strong, especially defensively.”
Duke: Lexie Brown – 24 points, 2 rebounds, 5 steals; Oderah Chidom – 11 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists; Rebecca Greenwell – 10 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists; Kendall Cooper – 10 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists
Kentucky: Taylor Murray – 18 points, 14rebounds; Makayla Epps – 12 points, 3 rebounds; Maci Morris – 11 points, 3 rebounds
Duke 37, Kentucky 32
Both teams executed well enough from the floor with Duke shooting at a 48-percent pace to Kentucky’s 46 percent.
While the Wildcats took advantage of turnovers to put points on the board, the Blue Devils’ work in the paint and off the bench gave them the advantage when they needed it.
Duke contained Kentucky to an 18-percent shooting performance during the final two periods and eventually established a double-digit lead, ahead 55-44 with eight minutes left to play, an advantage that ballooned to as many as 20 points six minutes later.
Highlights: Duke 69, Kentucky 54 – ACC Digital Network (TheACC.com)
Duke trailed 8-2 until a 5-0 run cut the deficit to one midway through the period.
The Blue Devils continued to press the Wildcats to turn the ball over and led 13-10 with three minutes remaining fueled by three straight layups from Chidom.
Even while Kentucky managed to pull ahead 14-13, work at the free throw line from Brown and Odom had Duke leading by two.
Both teams started to find a rhythm to their offenses, trading baskets with the Blue Devils leading 25-23 with five minutes remaining in the half.
A layup from Greenwell, her first points of the game off a feed from Chidom, helped Duke stay ahead.
Chidom extended the advantage with a layup and a free throw as the Blue Devils lead stood at 30-25 with four minutes to play.
The Wildcats stayed close, but couldn’t even it up and allowed Duke to carry a five-point (37-32) lead into the break.
A layup from Leaona Odom extended the Duke advantage to nine points at the six-minute mark.
Murray and Epps helped fuel a 7-0 run that pulled Kentucky within two, trailing 42-40 under two minutes later.
However, two three’s and some work from the free throw line allowed the Blue Devils to lead 49-44.
A layup from Greenwell started a 10-0 run that set Duke on its way.
Only a handful of free throws were recorded by the Wildcats during an eventual 0-for-16 shooting drought from the field that allowed the Blue Devils to increase their lead to as many as 20 points.
To its credit in finishing strong, Kentucky outscored Duke 7-2 during the final two minutes of the game.
Notes: Williams became the third player in program history to have her jersey retired. A 2015 Duke graduate, Williams (No. 1) joined Alana Beard (No. 20) and Lindsey Harding (No. 10) in receiving the honor. Williams was the first player in ACC history and only the eighth player in the NCAA to garner All-America distinction from the Associated Press in each of her four years. She was also the first player in the history of the ACC to total over 1,900 points, 1,000 rebounds and 400 blocks for her career.