LEXINGTON, Ky. – Duke expected to be pressured heavily against Kentucky. What the Blue Devils didn't anticipate was the lift freshman reserve Azia Bishop would provide.
Bishop scored 12 points and had 11 rebounds, and the 10th-ranked Wildcats beat No. 6 Duke 72-65 on Thursday night in front of the largest home crowd for a women's game in Kentucky history.
"I don't think I've seen that too much. A player comes off the bench for a double-double in a game like this, a physical game like this," Duke coach Joanne McCallie said. "I would call her the player of the game."
A'dia Mathies scored 23 points and freshman Bria Goss added 19 as 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.
"They played very good defensively," Duke guard Chelsea Gray said. "I just think we were rushing a lot of our passes. It's a two-way street when you pass the ball, somebody has to come to it. We were just off, and I think we were rushing everything."
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.
"We had a lot of turnovers," Williams said. "We weren't really in a good offensive flow."
Kentucky has feasted on lesser opponents, using its pressure to force more than 34 turnovers per game coming in while Duke hadn't committed more than 20 so far this season.
"That's terrible," McCallie said of the mistakes. "Twenty-four is terrible."
The game, featuring two top-10 opponents in Lexington for the first time since 1983, 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.
"It's a privilege coming into this arena," Gray said. "I think that was our first time ever against that type of crowd. It's a great atmosphere and you just have to get used to it. Playing on the road isn't easy, we just have to adapt to the environment and do the best we can with it."
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 time running short on the shot clock 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 left on two free throws by Gray. They couldn't get any closer until Chloe Wells' layup with 14.5 seconds left made it 70-65.
Haley Peters scored 13 points and Tricia Liston added 11 for Duke.
This was a signature win for coach Matthew 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, and the Blue Devils have three tuneups left before beginning conference play.
"We play a great schedule, a lot of really good teams," McCallie said. "We have some good lessons to learn."