Jasmine Thomas seemed to do the impossible in the closing seconds of No. 3 Duke's 46-45 victory over No. 4 Xavier.DURHAM, N.C. --
She gave the Blue Devils a one-point lead by making the second of two free throws with 2 1/2 seconds to play Tuesday night. Then she flew down the court to stuff a breakaway layup by Special Jennings and preserve the win.
"That is truly one of the best plays I've ever seen in 19 years of coaching,'' Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said. "Of course, they got it deflected out, which was of course a tremendous benefit to them, and all of a sudden you see this lightning bolt come out of nowhere to break a great shot.
"That was the most professional block I've ever seen."
Thomas led the Blue Devils (12-0) with 16 points, while fellow senior Krystal Thomas added 10 points and eight rebounds.
Xavier (10-1) came up short despite 22 points and 15 rebounds from Amber Harris. Ta'Shia Phillips had 19 rebounds and eight points.
"After the free throw, I thought they would try to inbound it as fast as they could so I took the closest guard to me,'' Jasmine Thomas said. "When I saw the ball go up and take about five years to come down I just looked and no one was back there, so I just knew someone had to sprint back. Whether it was a foul or a block it had to be done.''
The Blue Devils won despite being outshot 38 percent to 27 and being outrebounded 51-37, forcing the Musketeers into 30 turnovers to 12 of their own. Jasmine Thomas made a layup with 2:11 left to cut Xavier's lead to 45-42 and Karima Christmas cut it to a point on a layup with 1:22 left, and Krystal Thomas tied it at 45 with a free throw with 31 seconds remaining.
Jasmine Thomas came up with a loose ball in the backcourt and drew a foul on Tyeasha Moss with 2.5 seconds left, then hit the second of two free throws to give Duke the lead before racing to block Jennings' last-second layup attempt. Xavier coach Kevin McGuff sprinted toward officials at the end of the floor before being restrained by an assistant coach.
"I don't know where Thomas came from,'' McGuff said. "I saw that last play differently than (the officials), clearly. But that's the way it goes. It was a tough one for us to lose, but I'm just really proud of our effort.''
Xavier took a nine-point lead early in the second half, on Jennings' layup with 16:17 remaining. Jasmine Thomas answered with a jumper 16 seconds later and Duke came back to tie it at 40 on Krystal Thomas' layup from Shay Selby with 9:08 to go.