for this game

Jasmine Thomas leads No. 8 past Hokies, 65-53

Feb 14, 2010 - 10:07 PM By HANK KURZ Jr. AP Sports Writer

BLACKSBURG, Va.(AP) -- Jasmine Thomas arrived at Cassell Coliseum in a two-game shooting slump. She quickly broke out of it.

Helped by two early 3-pointers, Thomas scored 22 points and No. 8 Duke held off a late surge by Virginia Tech to beat the Hokies for the 13th consecutive time Sunday, 65-53.

"I'm coming off a few games where I haven't been in that mindset of attacking and then being patient," Thomas said after hitting 8 of 15 shots, including three 3-pointers.

The mini-slump, she said, was "not something that was on my mind," but she'd made just 5 of 24 shots and scored just 15 points total; her team-leading average is 15.5 points.

Instead of that Thomas, the Hokies saw the other one.

"She is so dangerous because she can score in so many ways and hurt you in so many ways," said Hokies coach Beth Dunkenberger, who is now 0-12 against the Blue Devils at Tech.

The Blue Devils (21-4, 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their third in a row, but were tested until the final minutes by the Hokies (13-12, 2-8). Virginia Tech was looking for a second upset on its home court following a win over then-No. 10 North Carolina last month.

It also was looking to avenge a 69-38 loss at Duke on Jan. 21.

The game was the third this week for the Blue Devils, and coach Joanne P. McCallie said the fatigue brought by victories against North Carolina and North Carolina State showed.

The Blue Devils were outrebounded, 37-34, for just the fourth time this season.

"We would have liked to shoot the ball a bit better and attacked a little bit more, but the bottom line is we played together and I thought we fought through some pretty hard adversity," she said. "The biggest thing we did was play smart in the last four minutes."

The lead changed three times just inside the final eight minutes before Karima Christmas hit a jumper for Duke and Bridgette Mitchell followed a Hokies miss with a 3-pointer, putting Duke ahead 48-44. With the Hokies going scoreless for more than 4 minutes, Joy Cheek and Krystal Thomas scored inside and Christmas' free throw finished a 10-0 run for Duke.

"Sometimes you've just got to find a way, and I think that was the difference for us today. We found a way," McCallie said.

Christmas added 15 points and Cheek had 10 for the Blue Devils.

Shanel Harrison had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Hokies. Lindsay Biggs scored 13.

Duke led 41-32 early in the second half and, for the second time, seemed ready to take command, but then went more than six minutes without a point as the Hokies ran off 10 in a row and took a 42-41 lead. Harrison capped the run with a three-point play with 7:51 left.

"I thought we were in a great position," Dunkenberger said of the burst, which had the season-best crowd of 3,369 roaring in anticipation of the Hokies pulling another upset.

But then the Blue Devils, whose inside game had been effectively slowed by the Hokies 2-3 zone, went back to it, and their size seemed to finally get the best of the Hokies defense.

After Duke answered with its burst, the Hokies never got closer than five again.

The Blue Devils led 20-7 midway through the first half and seemed poised to take command before the Hokies switched to a 2-3 zone and pulled within 30-26 at the half. Biggs scored eight points and Alyssa Fenyn five during the 19-10 run to end the half.

Thomas had 14 points in the first half - and she got her 14th with 5:35 left when the Hokies had just 15 - but only four of her teammates scored in the opening 20 minutes.