DURHAM, N.C. – Sophomore guard Taylor Murray scored 18 points, but the 17th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team lost to No. 15 Duke 69-54 on Thursday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Makayla Epps had 12 points and Maci Morris added 11 for the Wildcats, who fell to 9-4 on the season. Evelyn Akhator had only one point, but did grab a season-high 15 rebounds.
Kentucky went cold in the second half, hitting just six-of-34 (17.6 percent) from the floor. The Wildcats made just three field goals in each of the game’s final two periods, going three-of-16 in the third quarter and three-of-18 in the fourth. Kentucky hit 18-of-60 (30 percent) from the field in the game.
The Wildcats won the battle of the boards, 36-34, and also forced Duke into 21 turnovers, which Kentucky turned into 21 points.
The Wildcats got out of the gates early behind Murray, who scored five quick points to help Kentucky build an 8-2 lead. But Duke answered with an 11-2 run to take a 13-10 lead. Murray then scored back-to-back baskets to give Kentucky a 14-13 lead before Duke scored the final three points of the quarter, giving the Blue Devils a 16-13 advantage after one period. Murray finished the first frame with nine points.
Duke extended its lead early in the second quarter, scoring the first four points of the period to lead 20-13. Kentucky then got baskets from Epps and Murray to cut the lead to two. After a pair of Duke free throws, Jessica Hardin nailed a three-pointer to cut the lead to 22-21. Duke’s Lexie Brown answered with a three of her own, but Kentucky got two free throws from Murray and a basket from Epps to tie the game at 25-25. Duke would score the next five, and the Blue Devils would lead 37-32 at the break. Murray ended the half with 16 points to lead the Wildcats, who shot 46.2 percent from the floor and committed 11 turnovers in the half.
Duke (12-1) built its lead to nine points at 42-33 in the third quarter before a 7-0 Kentucky run cut the lead to two at 42-40. But the Blue Devils would lead 49-44 at the end of the frame.
In the fourth quarter, Duke opened with a 10-0 run to open its lead to 59-44. Kentucky was able to cut the lead to 13 at 59-46 on a pair of Epps free throws. But the Wildcats would get no closer.
Brown led Duke with 24 points, while Owensboro, Kentucky native Rebecca Greenwell had 10.