PITTSBURGH — Down by as many as 11 points in the third quarter, the Duquesne women’s basketball team never panicked and were able to find success on both sides of the ball winning 72-62 over Rhode Island Wednesday night at PPG Paints Arena.
Duquesne (17-9, 7-6 Atlantic 10) was paced by junior guard Libby Bazelak finished with a line of 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, good for her fourth double-double of the season. Redshirt senior guard/forward Paige Cannon added 15 points. Freshman center Precious Johnson added 12 points in 13 minutes off the bench.
In addition, Duquesne scored 21 points off 12 Rhode Island turnovers. whereas the Rams scored five points off 10 Dukes turnovers.
This victory gave Duquesne coach Dan Burt 150 career wins.
Davida Dale led Rhode Island (13-12, 6-7 Atlantic 10) with 27 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds.
Early on Duquesne forced Rhode Island senior center Nicole Jorgensen to sit when she picked up her second foul on a moving screen.
Jorgensen entered play Wednesday as the Atlantic 10’s third leading scorer averaging 16.2 points a game and scored one point in this game.
Instead of shying away from entering the paint, Rhode Island only became more aggressive in this approach and it paid off. Dale was able to drive, sometimes at will, and freshman center Kassondra Brown was among those who came off the bench and made an impact
Duquesne was largely there with Rhode Island, but were held scoreless for the final 3:05 of the first half and appeared hurried, specifically during this stretch.
Rhode Island also appeared to take advantage of some positional mismatches as Brown beat Staffileno in consecutive possessions to score in the post and the Rams on several occasions identified defensive switches and found higher-percentage shots. Rhode Island committed four first half turnovers, while Duquesne suffered from 11 miscues.
As both teams headed to the locker room at halftime, Rhode Island entered with a 40-31 advantage.
Early on in the third quarter, Jorgensen picked up her third foul and Duquesne’s defense was able to buckle down and hold Rhode Island without a field goal heading into the media timeout.
Duquesne went on a 10-0 run, spreading the ball around, while trying to find the highest-percentage shot cutting its deficit to two. The final basket was scored with the Dukes making three passes, the last of which saw Cannon wide open for a three-point shot which she buried.
As Rhode Island was in possession, one of its players appeared to step on the halfcourt line for an over-and-back violation, but referee Geraldine Smith did not see the play as Burt hit his hand on the court for effect. Dale converted an and-one on the play while Laia Sole picked up her fourth foul on the play.
Instead of this ending Duquesne’s momentum, it seemed to provide additional motivation.
As the quarter drew to a close, freshman center Precious Johnson picked up her play. Johnson blocked Jorgensen’s post-shot attempt and then was rewarded for running the court with a Bazelak post-entry pass for a basket. Then just prior to the buzzer, Johnson grabbed a rebound and quickly put the ball back in the basket.
Duquesne outscored Rhode Island 19-8 in the third quarter, holding the Rams to 1-for-10 from the field to take the lead.
In the fourth quarter, Duquesne continued to be the aggressors as Hamilton made two jumpers, one on a post touch and another on a catch-and-shoot.
Johnson continued to create match-up issues for Rhode Island as she was able to drive and score eight points in the period.
Though Rhode Island attempted to chip away from the Duquesne deficit late, time was not on its side and it had to play the foul game which proved unsuccessful.
With three conference games remaining the victory is especially important for a Duquesne team looking to secure a first-round Atlantic 10 Championship home game.
Duquesne next hosts GW Saturday evening back at LaRoche University’s Kerr Fitness Center.