PITTSBURGH — Duquesne took on St. Francis (PA) Saturday night at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse and were able to come away with the win, 70-61. The Dukes (5-6) held the lead for most of the game, but allowed the Red Flash (0-9) to get back in the game in the second, third and fourth quarters, as they blew double-digit leads in each.
Duquesne head coach, Dan Burt, gave credit to St. Francis on their ability to change up their game plan, but was not thrilled after his team’s performance.
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“We obviously came away with the victory, but you don’t feel clean after a win like that,” Burt said. “Where you in the third quarter go up 10-0 and in the fourth quarter go up 7-0 and don’t perform over the last five or six minutes of each quarter.”
The first quarter was close and ended up tied at 12 as neither team could get away from the other.
The Red Flash took the lead, 17-14, for the first time after two free throws from senior forward Jada Dapaa and a 3-pointer by redshirt senior guard Lili Benzel.
The Dukes responded by going on a 10-0 run, with two layups and a free throw from graduate guard Fatou Pouye, and a 3-pointer and layup from graduate guards Libby Bazelak and Halle Bovell, respectively.
Duquesne kept their lead and were up by eight, 30-22, with 48 seconds left in the half after a layup from graduate center Laia Sole.
St. Francis cut the lead to four at halftime, thanks to a layup from sophomore forward Aaliyah Moore and a 3-pointer at the buzzer by sophomore guard Kaitlyn Maxwell.
First-year guard Tess Myers displayed some of her offensive abilities to start the second half. She scored nine points on a 9-0 run, making two 3-pointers, a long 2-point shot and a free throw, putting Duquesne up 40-27, and forcing St. Francis to take a timeout.
The Red Flash didn’t fall apart, and came back as they did in the second quarter, outscoring the Dukes 17-8 to end the third quarter, cutting the lead to four, 48-44. Graduate guard Jenna Mastellone made a 3-pointer and a layup, Benzel made two 3-pointers and Dapaa made two layups and two free throws to cap the run.
Duquesne were able to extend their lead, this time to 12 at 58-46, by going on a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter, thanks to a jumper from Myers, a layup from Sole and a 3-pointer from first-year guard Megan McConnell.
St. Francis found ways to cut into Duquesne’s lead, going on an 11-3 run to cut the lead to four, 61-57 with 2:22 remaining.
The Dukes managed to keep their lead the rest of the way, thanks to Sole, who made a layup and a free throw and Myers, who made four free throws to keep the Red Flash at bay.
Myers scored a team high and career high 23 points in the victory over the Red Flash. All of these points came in the second half as she was vital in the Dukes’ victory, going 4-for-7 from 3-point range and 7-for-8 from the foul line.
“Just kind of staying in the flow,” Myers said about her efficient shooting. My team is obviously super confident in me. Encouraging me at halftime, telling me to stay with it, let the ball come to me and my teammates did a great job of finding me.”
Bazelak was proud of her team’s performance and noted that the Dukes’ shooting was much better in this game than their previous two games which ended in losses. Still, she put emphasis on playing better defense going into future games.
“We know basketball is a game of runs and they can shoot the ball,” Bazelak said. “They had their runs, we had ours. We gotta work on our defense more to really stop those runs, but we ended with the win, so that’s what matters.”
Duquesne will play next Saturday, December 18th against another in-state opponent, Penn State, at home at 2 p.m.