PITTSBURGH — Led by a dominating fourth-quarter effort, the Dukes powered their way to a 63-44 win over St. Bonaventure (8-5, 0-2) at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon. The Dukes are now 6-9 on the season and 1-2 in conference play.
To start the fourth quarter, Precious Johnson made two shots in the paint to give Duquesne a 44-39 advantage. The Dukes then nailed three consecutive three-pointers to advance their lead to 53-39. The three-pointers were made by Tess Myers, Megan McConnell and center Laia Sole. Prior to the three straight triples, the Dukes were 0-of-18 from behind the arc. In total, Duquesne made four three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
“When we came into the timeout, I told the women, ‘Most people would not want to highlight the fact that you’re 0 for 18, but I’ll go bet the house in Vegas that we’re not going to finish 0 for 18 or 0 for 22 from the three-point line, we’re going to knock some down,'” Duquesne head coach Dan Burt said after the game. “We did a lineup change where we went big with Precious and Laia Sole in there, and that gave us a little bit more breathing room to get our feet set and be shot ready for our perimeter people. Also, Laia and Precious were able to score around the basket.”
Myers made two three-pointers in the fourth quarter, and both of Myers’ triples came in the same left corner.
“As soon as we got on a roll, we just caught energy and confidence,” Myers said about the fourth quarter three-point surge.
The Dukes held St. Bonaventure’s best player Asianae Johnson to just six points. Johnson averaged 16 points per game heading into Saturday’s game.
“That was probably our best defensive game we’ve played the whole year,” McConnell said. “We pretty much focused on stopping No. 2 Asianae Johnson. I mean, she’s a really good player. She averaged like 16 points, so for her to have only six points today, I think that was a huge game-changer.”
Burt said McConnell was the difference in holding Johnson to just six points.
“Meg McConnell was frankly incredible today,” Burt said. “She was able to use her quickness, speed, and explosiveness to stay in front of Johnson. Johnson is very, very good and is an all-conference level player. To hold her to 2 for 15 from the field, and even the two shots that she made, she was contested. It was certainly a rough day for her, but she is an outstanding player. Megan is the reason for that. Megan was outstanding today guarding her.”
Along with having a great defensive performance, McConnell finished the game with 12 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and only one turnover.
Fatou Pouye led the Dukes with 16 points off the bench. Myers was second with 13 points. The Dukes had four players who scored double-digits. Sole had 11 points. Ene Adams and I’yanna Lops led the Bonnies with 10 points each.
Duquesne shot 23-of-55 (41.8%) from the field and were 4-of-23 (17.4%) from behind the arc. St. Bonaventure shot below 28 percent, as they made 16-of-58 (27.6%) shots from the field. The Bonnies were 3-of-13 (23.1%) on three-point attempts.
At the end of the first quarter, Duquesne was tied with St. Bonaventure at 11-11. Both teams struggled from the field, as they shot below 34 percent. The Dukes scored 10 of their 11 points in the paint in the first quarter.
McConnell nailed a long jumper to put Duquesne up 21-15 with 2:52 remaining in the first half. McConnell’s conversion gave the Dukes’ some breathing room as it gave them their largest lead of the first half. Duquesne finished off the second quarter strong and went into halftime leading St. Bonaventure, 27-19.
Pouye led the Dukes with 11 points in the first half. McConnell was second in scoring with seven points. Adams led the Bonnies with seven points.
Duquesne shot 10-of-29 (34.5%) from the field in the first half and were 0-of-11 from being the arc. McConnell’s long jumper was initially ruled as a three-pointer. St. Bonaventure made just 7-of-30 (23.3%) shots from the field and were 0-of-4 on three-point attempts. Duquesne and St. Bonaventure both had 14 points from the paint in the first half.
Nikki Oppenheimer made a three-pointer from the corner to cut the Dukes’ lead to 38-37 with 3:24 left in the third quarter. Johnson followed with a layup to give the Bonnies their first lead since the first half. Myers answered with a jumper and the Dukes went into the fourth quarter with a narrow 40-39 lead.
Following two consecutive baskets by Johnson in the paint, the Dukes nailed three consecutive three-pointers to advance their lead to 53-39 with 5:25 remaining in the game. At the 1:50 mark, Myers made another three-pointer from the same corner, which put the Dukes up by 20 at 61-41. Duquesne closed out the game with a jumper by Snezhana Serafimoska and won by 19 points, 63-44.
The Dukes’ next game is on Jan. 15 against Davidson on the road. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.