DAVIDSON, N.C. — Entering John M. Belk arena Sunday afternoon, Duquesne had the top offense in all of women’s basketball in the Atlantic-10 Conference, averaging 69.5 points per-game, shooting 34.9 percent from three-point range and dishing out 15.5 assists per-contest.
But Sunday, the Davdison Wildcats were simply better.
A three-pointer from Davidson’s Katie Turner with under a minute to play proved to be the dagger. She then swished five free throws with under 30 seconds to play to put the game on ice, leading the Wildcats to an 79-76 home win over the visiting Dukes in front of an announced crowd of 738 fans.
Turner, a 5-foot-7 sharpshooting guard from Reno, Nevada, finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“Katie’s clutch. You know, she had a great game with rebounding and assists, just an all-around great game,” Davidson head coach Gayle Fulks said. “She’s a fierce competitor and led us along the way… I was proud of the steps we took today.”
Leading Duquesne (16-9; 6-6 A-10) on the stat sheet in its second straight loss was Paige Cannon, who tallied 18 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals. The Dukes had a chance to send the game into overtime, trailing by just three points with 11.4 seconds to play, but Amanda Kalin’s contested three-point attempt missed the mark.
“I don’t think a lot of things went wrong. I think a lot of things went right,” Duquesne head coach Dan Burt said. “It was a situation where we were aggressive driving the ball and you’ve got to make free throws when the fouls are called and – when the fouls are not called – you’ve got to make plays. I didn’t feel like we did that.”
Davidson (14-11; 7-5 A-10) played this game like it had nothing to lose. The Wildcats had lost four straight games and seemed determined to not drop a fifth contest. They came out quick, fiery and sharp, jumping out to a 12-4 lead. After winning the opening tip and making the first basket, the Wildcats started pressing.
Duquesne simply looked sluggish and out of sorts early on, starting the game by making just one of its first seven shot attempts. The Dukes eventually got on track and ended the first quarter with an 8-3 run.
“The press had no effect on us, really… I think that’s to wear down our point guard, which I would do the same,” Burt said. “We missed shots. Our post player missed shots and she’s got to make those shots. If she makes those shots, it’s probably a little bit of a different quarter.”
Eventually, in the second quarter, Davidson would go on to lead by as many as 13 points. Their first half dominance was led by Chloe Welch and Adelaide Fuller, who combined for 22 points, five rebounds and two assists over the first two frames. Welch, a 5-foot-9 sophomore from Colorado Springs, finished with 20 points.
The Dukes led briefly in the third quarter, thanks to a 13-7 run to open the period that was powered by Cannon. At around the 7:13 mark, Cannon received a feed from Libby Bazelak and drained a three-pointer from the left corner that tied the game up. Davidson responded with a three of its own, but Cannon drained another look from behind the arc, this one coming at the top of the key. After two defensive stops, a free throw from Bazelak gave the Dukes a one-point advantage for a short period of time. It was their first lead of the game.
Cannon scored 10 points in the third quarter after scoring just four in the first half. Amaya Hamilton also had a strong second half for Duquesne, scoring 10 of her 14 points in the final two frames. Hamilton also had five rebounds and a steal.
“I was really proud with of how we bounced back,” Burt said. “That’s the Atlantic-10 this year. There’s no dominant team in the league. You have a situation where, there’s really about 10 teams that could win this and we’re one of them and so is Davidson. It’s really surviving. You’ve got to eliminate your mistakes.”
From an offensive perspective, one of the differences in the game was how well Davidson shot from behind the arc. The Wildcats made 10 three-pointers to the Dukes’ five. Davidson also grabbed three more rebounds than Duquesne.
For the Dukes, Libby Bazelak did not have her best night. She leads the team in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals this year, but scored just 10 points on 2-of-9 shooting and had two turnovers to go along with five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Duquesne did shoot relatively well from the free throw line, knocking down 21-of-26 attempts for an 80.8 percent clip. The Dukes also won the turnover battle, giving up just 10 possessions to Davidson’s 14.
The loss for the Dukes drops them a .500 record in conference play and out of a three-way tie for fourth place. The Dukes are now sixth in the A-10 table with four games remaining.
Despite the Dukes’ two recent losses, Burt likes where his team is at and doesn’t see any major changes being made in this final stretch of the season. The Dukes will take a bus back to Pittsburgh and begin preparing for their next game.
“Our kids are giving everything they have to this program and they’re battling,” Burt said. “We just have to be ready to go on Wednesday against Rhode Island. We’re going to play exactly the same way and see how things go.”