McCANDLESS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — On Sunday afternoon at LaRoche College, the Duquesne women’s basketball team won their ninth consecutive game with a 72-69 overtime win over Saint Francis University.
The Red Flash scored the first five points of the fourth quarter and grabbed the largest lead of the game, 53-42. The Dukes responded in a significant way, scoring eight straight points of their own. Again, Saint Francis bounded back in front and forced two Duquense turnovers and capitalized with points following both of the cough ups.
Duquense redshirt senior Paige Cannon connected on a 3-point attempt from the left corner to tie the game at 57 apiece with just over two minutes left in regulation. Then redshirt junior forward Laia Sole drained two foul shots to add to her career-high of 38 points while giving the Dukes a 58-57 lead.
Sole’s 38 points on 17-of-25 shooting were the most points scored from a Duquesne player since head coach Dan Burt took over as the head man seven seasons ago.
But Saint Francis never backed down and answered with two straight buckets of their own to give them a three-point lead with 27.8 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Cannon attempted yet another 3-pointer and was fouled. She swished all three of her attempts to send the game to overtime.
In overtime, Sole continued her stellar play. She made five of her final six attempts from the field and showed to be too much for the Red Storm to handle in the extra five minutes.
Duquense junior point guard Libby Bazelak made some critical contributions on the perimeter, adding a double-double, scoring 10 points and grabbing ten rebounds.
But Sole’s dominance was clear from the first possession of the game, as she scored 8 points on 4-of-4 shooting in the first five minutes of action, and the Dukes made it an emphasis to get her post-touches for the remainder of the game.
The Dukes were held to just 36.8 percent in the first quarter and 0-for-6 from the 3-point line. Saint Francis led 16-15 after the first 10 minutes.
Duquense then forced a shot clock violation from the Red Storm and scored on their first offensive possession and had seemed to gain some positive momentum, but the Red Storm stuck around for the remainder of the first half.
Sole carried Duquense with 15 points in the first half as the Dukes hung on to a 31-28 lead. No one else had more than six points, which came as a surprise. The Dukes have had a balanced scoring attack all season (seven players averaging more than seven points a game and three players scoring more than 11 points per game).
Saint Francis led most of the major stat categories on Sunday. Duquesne shot 43.8 percent from the field, as St. Francis shot 47.5 percent. The Red Flash outrebounded the Dukes 38-33.
The Red Flash ball handlers gave problems to perimeter defenders off Duquense, and that was evident throughout the game.
Haley Thomas led Saint Francis with 14 points and six rebounds.
The Dukes (9-2) will be back in action on Friday, Dec. 20, as they will host Kennesaw State (5-4) at LaRoche College.