The Duquesne women’s basketball team scored a season high in points, while also ending a four-game losing streak, with an 80-68 victory over Richmond Wednesday night at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
“It’s definitely very encouraging,” Duquesne forward Amaya Hamilton said. “A lot of us come in and work extra on it and work individually with coaches on different movements and looks that we can get out of the offense. It’s really exciting seeing it all put together and finally working for us.”
Duquesne has adjusted into more of a Princeton-style offense where an effort is made to get into the high post and requires cutting action, which can allow for higher-percentage shots.
Burt expressed that Duquesne was more deliberate in its cutting actions which led to the higher output.
“Today was a good starting point because we’ve been struggling to score at times,” Duquesne guard Tess Myers said. “I think we’re starting to peak at the right time.”
Duquesne (10-15/5-8 Atlantic 10) saw five scores reach double figures led by Fatou Pouye’s 20 points. Tess Myers scored 15 points, while Precious Johnson finished with 14 points and a career high 12 rebounds. Libby Bazelak swished 13 points, while Amaya Hamilton added 12 points and eight rebounds to the cause. Megan McConnell put up a line consisting of six assists and 10 rebounds.
The Dukes also won the rebounding battle by a decisive 45-32 margin and the paint by a similar 46-28 total.
“When we don’t have success, we tend to go around the arc and don’t get penetration,” Duquesne coach Dan Burt said. “That’s what kills us. That’s our kryptonite. If we just pass it around the arc and we’re not aggressive getting into the paint, then it’s going to be a long night for us. When we play like this, it’s hard for anyone to beat us. This is a very good night and we’re pretty talented.”
Due to Duquesne’s extensive injuries, Burt elected to have his team practice for 45 minutes on Tuesday after having Monday off.
In those 45 minutes, Burt emphasized attacking not just with the basketball, but also when pursuing rebounds, something which paid off in the final statistics.
“I challenged the kids to actually get fouls on rebounds,” he said. “When you have that level of aggressiveness, you’re going to outrebound an opponent.”
Richmond (14-12/5-8 A-10) was led by Addie Budnik who scored 20 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Budnik’s game also saw her in foul trouble and shoot up 4-for-9 from the free-throw line. Claire Holt added 13 points, while Grace Townsend recorded eight points to compliment eight assists.
Early on both teams were able to play quickly but did not see the ball drop with as much consistency as either side would desire.
Duquesne created a six-point advantage six minutes into the period as Myers was given space because of a screen and buried an open three-point shot, much to the frustration of Richmond coach Aaron Roussell.
The Dukes would lead 17-14 after one quarter as the defense forced the Spiders into 11 turnovers.
Both teams would trade scores in the second quarter, but it would be Duquesne which would break through first with a double-digit lead taking a 42-32 advantage into halftime.
Richmond continued have inconsistencies valuing the basketball. pushing its turnovers up to 11, meanwhile Duquesne shot 63.2% from the field in the second quarter.
Richmond saw its sense of urgency increase as it opened the third quarter on a 7-0 run. Despite missing four consecutive free throws, it was able to outhustle Duquesne to the ball, even grabbing a steal after two missed shots at the foul line.
The Spiders would score in transition and with the lead cut to three, Burt called a timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Duquesne was able to calm down, led by Bazelak scoring four points, which set the Dukes offense back into a rhythm.
Johnson then got position, something Megan McConnell recognized and lobbed a pass in her direction for the high-percentage layup. When a ball deflected to Myers, she was able to bury another three-point basket, bringing Duquesne lead back up to 11 points after Johnson converted an and-one play.
Shortly after this, McConnell added an and-one play, falling to the floor as the ball sailed through the basket.
After three quarters, Duquesne led 61-48.
In the final quarter, Richmond was able to cut its deficit to 10 points, but a 6-0 Duquesne run allowed for the Dukes to create separation as they continued to successfully work the paint.
Duquesne will take to the road for its next two games beginning Sunday afternoon at St. Bonaventure, a contest scheduled for a noon tip on ESPN+.
“Coach (Rick) Bell has just emphasized for us to keep fighting,” said Hamilton. “We’ve been fighting since last year with injuries, and this year injuries hit us again. No matter what we just had to continue to fight, and we can’t give up on this season. We had four tough losses and us winning and having a great team win tonight, really said a lot about us.”