PITTSBURGH — In its first game played at PPG Paints Arena, the Duquesne women’s basketball team got its season started on a down note, falling 77-75 to Kent State Tuesday night as Megan Carter’s floater beat the buzzer.
Libby Bazelak made both of her free throws to tie the contest with 4.2 seconds remaining in regulation, before Carter sank the game winner within the final second.
“Obviously a couple more stops and we come away with the win, but that did not happen,” Duquesne coach Dan Burt said. “We’re an unproven team, so we’re going to have some games like this and we will have to learn from this. We obviously fouled enough, so our aggressiveness was there but unfortunately we fell a bucket short.”
Duquesne was led by Amanda Kalin and Laia Sole, both of whom scored 14 points, though the latter fouled out. Bazelak added 13 points, while Nina Aho netted 12 points before she also fouled out. Amaya Hamilton added a game-high 10 rebounds in her first collegiate game.
Fouls were prevalent in this game as Duquesne was called for 29 infractions and Kent State 17. In addition to Sole and Aho, Paige Cannon also fouled out. Additionally both Kalin and Angela Staffileno were called for four fouls and Kent State’s Lindsey Thall also fouled out.
“It is hard when you have three of your starters foul out and it was hard to adjust at the end of the game,” Duquesne guard Libby Bazelak said. “We’ve got to learn from our mistakes and use it as motivation.”
Kalin was called for two offensive fouls in the fourth quarter and admitted that it was tough to get into a move when the whistle was blowing but believed even with the prevalent whistles which referees Felicia Young, Brandon Breese and Tony Capasso blew a combined 46 times, did not completely determine this contest.
“Bottom line is what do we have to do to get better,” she asked. “It’s not about the refs. We have to adjust because we know they are going to call it.”
In the first quarter, Duquesne got off to a quick start totaling 25 points and shooting 58.8% from the field while Kent State shot 29.4%. At halftime, Duquesne held a 45-38 advantage.
Throughout the game, Kent State was able to rely on its outside shooting to undo some of Duquesne’s progress. Thall made five threes on the evening and the Golden Flashes made its first five triples in the second half.
“It’s tough when the other team is scoring and setting back into their defense and that’s what they did to us really in the second and third quarter,” said Burt. “We’re going to have situations like tonight because we don’t have a lot of experience. I am not angry with our team in any way, I am proud of the effort they gave. It is a disappointing bitter loss because of how we started.”
Fouls became an issue for Duquesne in the second half as all three officials in the game had an active whistle. Ultimately both Aho and Sole fouled out of this game early on in the fourth quarter which left Duquesne shorthanded.
Sole in particular had a difficult task as she had to help on the driving guards and then race back outside to get to Thall who was burying three-point shots.
Kent State’s attack also provided an opportunity for fouls which is exactly what happened. Duquesne had to consistently make substitutions to adjust, though freshman post option Precious Johnson was not considered because her assignment blew past her. Defensively, Burt called her a work in progress which against a Kent State team that spreads an opponent out was not something he wanted to have on the court.
Burt did state had the fouls not been an issue, that Paige Cannon would play more of a natural center position.
Though some questioned how Duquesne’s offense could score with so much previous scoring lost to graduation, Duquesne had little trouble putting the ball in the basket, it was just the defense which was a work in progress.
Bazelak stated that Duquesne put in a few new defenses so there is an adjustment period which the team is closer to getting past.
Still, Kalin admitted that the energy Duquesne came out with in the first quarter became lost as the team failed to earn defensive stops, which led to choppiness.
That showed as a shorthanded Duquesne shot 30% from the field. Duquesne did have two chances at the end of the game after the Golden Flashes took a lead with less than a minute remaining in regulation.
Though Duquesne was unsuccessful in its first attempt to tie the game but had a second chance when Kent State was unsuccessful at the free throw line, setting up Bazelak’s free throws.
Duquesne will next travel to play Temple on Friday. The Dukes bested the Owls a season ago.
HE SAID IT
“There’s positives, but not right now.” – Burt