PITTSBURGH — The Duquesne Women’s Basketball team concluded regular season play dropping its second consecutive contest, this one 73-68 to Saint Joseph’s Sunday afternoon at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
“Regardless of what our record is, we thought we were taking steps in a positive direction to the end result which is in March,” Duquesne women’s basketball coach Dan Burt said. “This was a disappointment today. I think Saint Joe’s did a great job of coaching, isolating certain players and we did not do a good job of executing our scout. They were the aggressor and that is the thing that most disappointments me. On a senior day it felt like they wanted it more than us.”
Duquesne (11-17, 6-10 Atlantic 10) was led by Precious Johnson who matched a career high with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Fatou Pouye scored 12 points on her senior day and Megan McConnell finished with a final line of 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Duquesne’s bench would outscore Saint Joseph’s 42-5 on the afternoon. The Dukes also scored 26 points off 17 Saint Joseph’s turnovers.
Saint Joseph’s (11-16, 7-8 A-10) saw reigning A-10 Rookie of the Week Mackenzie Smith score a career high 26 points, as she was 7-for-13 from the field and made nine of 10 free throws, while also grabbing seven rebounds. Tayla Brugler scored 15 points, Laila Fair 12 and Katie Jekot would complete her afternoon with 10 points eight assists.
Early on, the Duquesne bench showed plenty of energy as the Dukes started five of its six seniors, including Amanda Kalin. Kalin’s start was her first of the season and come in her third game, which happened to be her first since Jan. 5.
“It’s been an up and down roller coaster for me,” Kalin stated. “I came back from my ACL and then getting re injured. It was nice to get out there for our last home game. Not feeling 100% but I’ll have a whole week to prepare for A-10’s and try to feel better.”
The bench attempted to will its seniors into success, but Saint Joseph’s was able to execute its high-low sets, taking an early lead and assisting on its baskets at high rates.
Duquesne was held scoreless for 3:56 of game action, during which Saint Joseph’s went on a 9-0 run. In addition to the lull, Duquesne took one free throw in the entire first half.
Down 22-14 after the first quarter, the Dukes quickly fell down by double digits following a Julia Nystrom three-point shot.
Duquesne would come back to tie the game at 34. The Dukes defense dug in and the offense began to string makes together.
In one possession, Laia Sole was a presence on the boards, allowing Duquesne to have multiple looks before Tess Myers buried the triple which tied the game.
Just before halftime, Brugler found an opening on a three-point basket, allowing Saint Joseph’s to take a 37-34 into the break.
Just over two minutes into the third quarter, Duquesne took its first lead of the game as Libby Bazelak caught a ball on the run from McConnell, successfully making a shot off the glass.
Duquesne’s edge would reach two points, before Smith buried a trifecta to go back in front.
After McConnell sank two free throws to tie the game, Smith was able to build confidence off the three-point basket and the Hawks caught fire, going on a 5-0 run over 46 seconds, opening up a nine-point advantage, while forcing Duquesne to call its first timeout.
Smith would ultimately score 18 points in the third quarter, outscoring Duquesne by herself in the quarter 18-15. Saint Joseph’s held a 62-49 advantage heading into the final quarter.
“She’s very hard to guard because she creates so much contact and today, she was rewarded for creating contact,” said Burt. “We were not in position to take a charge on her because they were shooting so well from three. She did what she did in the third quarter. We tried multiple things with her, she just got hot.”
Duquesne would outscore Saint Joseph’s by nine points in the fourth quarter, but time would not be on its side.
Prior to the game, Duquesne recognized seven seniors in Bazelak, Kalin, Diamond Bragg, Halle Bovell, Fatou Poye, Laia Sole and student manager Olivia Stumpo. In addition, both Caroline and Kiersten Elliott got to receive similar applause from fans during halftime of Saturday’s contest. Both graduated last season but were unable to be recognized in front of fans due to COVID-19 restrictions. The program also recognized its male practice players at halftime.
Duquesne will find out its seeding for the Atlantic 10 Championship, later on Saturday night. The Atlantic 10 Championship tips off Wednesday at Chase Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Del.
“We’re confident, we know we can win games, we’ve hung with the best teams in the league,” Bazelak said. “We just have to keep working on end-of-game situations. We’ve had so many losses at the end of games and that’s going to be important for us. I have confidence and faith that everyone’s going to give it their all next week.”