Clutch shooting by VCU (6-5) down the stretch was just enough to beat Duquesne, 74-70, in overtime on Wednesday night at the Stuart C. Siegel Center in Richmond, Va. The Dukes are now 5-9 on the season and 0-2 in conference play.
Taya Robinson was VCU’s leading scorer with 17 points and Sarah Te-Biasu was second with 16. Both Robinson and Te-Biasu had three triples. Sophomore center Precious Johnson led the Dukes in scoring with 19 points off the bench. Freshman guard Tess Myers was second with 17 points and had three triples.
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VCU shot 38.1% from the field, which was below Duquesne’s 43.3% figure, but the Rams made nine three-pointers compared to the Dukes’ six.
VCU led Duquesne, 26-22, at the end of the first quarter. Both teams were efficient from the field, as they both shot over 70 percent. Te-Biasu led the Rams with 11 points in the first quarter, while freshman guard Megan McConnell led the Dukes with seven points.
After a hot start, Duquesne’s offense stalled and VCU went on a 7-0 run to start the second quarter. The Dukes shot just 11 percent from the field through the first five minutes of the quarter. In the back-half of the second quarter, the Dukes moved the ball better and took better shots and managed to cut VCU’s lead to 40-37 at halftime after Myers nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
VCU and Duquesne both excelled in the transition game during the first half, as a lot of points were scored on fast-break situations. VCU had the upper hand when it came to shooting, as they shot 50 percent from the field and 50 percent from behind the arc in the first half.
With 1:39 remaining in the third quarter, the Dukes retook the lead for the first time since the first quarter when Lizzy Bazelak made two foul shots to put Duquesne up 47-45. Following a layup by Halle Bovell and a jumper by Laia Sole, the Dukes led 51-49 heading into the fourth quarter. Through three quarters, Duquesne scored 32 points in the paint and had 12 points off the bench from Johnson.
Early in the fourth quarter, Janika Griffith-Wallace and Madison Hattix-Covington each made a three-pointer on consecutive possessions to put the Rams up, 58-54. Johnson answered with a layup and jumper to tie the game at 58-58 with 6:35 remaining. Both teams went back and forth down the stretch and the score was tied at 65-65 with 43.3 left in the game. After a moving screen foul called on Johnson, VCU regained possession and had a chance to take the lead, but the Dukes came up with a defensive stop. Duquesne failed to score on one last attempt to win the contest in regulation, and the game went to overtime.
Following a jumper by Griffith-Wallace, Hattix-Covington nailed a three-pointer to give VCU a 72-67 lead with 1:55 remaining in overtime. Johnson missed a three-pointer and a foul shot on the Dukes’ next two possessions, and VCU pulled away with a 74-70 win.
The Dukes’ next game is on Saturday, Jan. 8, against St. Bonaventure at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse. Tipoff is at 2 p.m.