PITTSBURGH — Duquesne women’s basketball coach Dan Burt walked into the fourth quarter team huddle of his team’s Sunday afternoon Atlantic 10 game against Dayton with a clear message.
“All of the BS, all the frustration, all of the hurt that has been our season, the disappointment is over because of what we have done in these first three quarters,” he said. “Now it can’t change, we cannot let up in any sort of way, because that frustration can seep back in.”
The Duquesne women’s basketball team had not beaten Dayton in its last four tries and had lost its last three games overall entering Sunday’s game but that changed at the AJ Palumbo Center when a huge third quarter for the Dukes broke the game open and the momentum carried through the fourth quarter as the Dukes ran away with an 85-57 victory.
“Anytime you shoot the basketball 48% from the field and 48% from the free throw line, you have to feel good about your team,” Burt said. “I take greater satisfaction with how hard we played. We showed great physicality all game and had many contributions. It was a complete team win, I am really proud of our team, especially against a team like Dayton.”
Senior guard Julijana Vojinovic contributed a season-high 23 points and led the team with four assists. Vojinovic was 7 for 11 from the field and set a career high with six 3-point field goals made. She also surpassed Orsi Szecsi for 22nd on the program’s all-time scoring list.
“I have been struggling this season, especially with my three-point shooting and I’ve tried everything.,” said Vojinovic. “Every game I keep telling myself that the ball is going to go in. I don’t back down and I believe it will happen. It felt so nice that I made all of the threes that I missed previously. Then, you have good teammates who fight for each other. I like challenges, so it makes me stronger.”
Fellow senior Kadri-Ann Lass added 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Lass had made nine 3-point baskets all season, but went 3-for-3 on triples on Sunday. Additionally, she surpassed Kristi Little for 15th on the program’s all-time scoring list.
“Three pointers for our team really have been a struggle this season,” she said. “We’ve been a very good three-point shooting team but this year it hasn’t really gone that way for us. Every game I always want to take one three and see how it feels and if it’s not there don’t force it. I made the first one, so I felt like taking a second one and the third came out of my hands and I was open. It definitely gives me some confidence with my outside shooting, more than I have the last couple of games.”
Sophomore guard Libby Bazelak also tied a career high with 10 rebounds. Of the 12 Duquesne players who saw the court, 11 had a positive plus-minus, paced by Bazelak and Vojinovic, each of whom were a +26.
Lauren Cannatelli paced Dayton with 16 points. Dayton led after the first quarter but shot 16.1 percent in the second half.
“This is what I was worried about coming in,” Dayton coach Shauna Green said. “Duquesne is a very dangerous team and they hit everything today. Credit them first but we didn’t come out with the right defensive intensity. I don’t know when the last time we gave up 85 points. It wasn’t clean, it wasn’t sharp. Duquesne was desperate today and I thought you saw it.”
Dayton entered play with the largest rebounding margin in the Atlantic 10 at +4.7 but it was Duquesne which ended up with a 41-34.
In the decisive third quarter, Dayton was 2-for-13 from the field and of the 13 points it scored, eight came from the free throw line.
Even when Burt was assessed a technical foul in the third quarter, the team responded right away, with Lass converting an and-one play.
“Until I looked down, I had no idea we scored 30 points in the quarter,” said Burt. “I completely had forgotten we were up one at halftime. I had felt good throughout the first half with the way we were playing and it felt like an eight or nine point lead. This talks a lot about the kids we have and how we just played so hard.”
Another advantage Duquesne enjoyed was in the paint, where the Dukes were a decisive +16. Burt has preached energy and toughness all season and each post touch provided open looks for the offense or a chance to go one-on-one.
“I think our post players played hard today,” Lass said. “We were prepared to battle hard against them. We knew that the more physical team would win today. Once we got it going, there was a feeling of confidence.”
Duquesne will again take to the Palumbo Center’s floor for an 11 a.m. tip against Saint Louis on Wednesday with an Education Day theme sure to bring many young students to the game.
THEY SAID IT
“I told people the first win we get will be a big relief, the second one will be back rolling. I think because of this victory we are combining the two. It is a huge relief and anybody that tells you it’s not is lying. Now with the way we played it allows us to feel like we are on a roll.” – Dan Burt
“Wins like this help us so much. It is a relief because we work so hard and finally everything came together for 40 minutes. We just have to keep doing the same thing. We’ll probably have some adversity, but we need to keep going.” – Julijana Vojinovic.