PITTSBURGH — On Saturday afternoon, Dan Burt’s Duquesne Dukes came back from a nine-point deficit, taking down crosstown rival Pitt in the City Game at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse, 56-55.
Pitt’s Bella Perkins hit the Panthers’ first field goal of the fourth quarter with 51 seconds remaining in the quarter, kickstarting a late run by the Panthers. After a Jala Jordan layup went through with 11 seconds remaining, the Panthers had found themselves trailing by just one point after minutes earlier, it had appeared that they had blown the game to the Dukes.
In the final 11 seconds, Duquesne’s Amaya Hamilton hit one free throw to extend the lead to two. To close out the game, Pitt looked to Perkins for a three-point attempt to take the lead, but Perkins missed left. After the ball was tipped out of bounds, the possession went back to Pitt with 4.8 on the clock, but the Panthers’ Liatu King traveled on her game-tying layup attempt.
Here was the travel called on Pitt’s Liatu King today in the final seconds of Pitt’s loss to Duquesne.
— George Michalowski (@MichalowskiCBB) November 18, 2023
Duquesne’s Kiandra Browne hit the game-winning free throw attempts with 2.8 seconds on the clock, clinching Duquesne’s first win over Pitt since 2019. Perkins hit another three for the Panthers to make it a one-point loss, but it was too little, too late.
Duquesne’s Megan McConnell, Kiandra Browne, and Tess Myers shined in the Dukes’ winning effort, with McConnell leading the gutsy effort with a season-high 20 points despite suffering a late-game arm injury. Myers hit two clutch threes late in the fourth quarter, finishing with nine points for the Dukes in the win.
Both teams started out cold in the rivalry matchup, as the Dukes hit just one of their first nine shots, and the Panthers one of their first ten. However, the offense picked up in the last few minutes of the first quarter. Referee Fatou Cissoko-Stephens assessed Dan Burt an early technical foul amidst both teams’ shooting struggles, and official Rod Creech later confirmed to PSN that the foul was due to “language.”
Throughout the rest of the quarter, Duquesne’s Naelle Bernard hit a stepback three to extend Duquesne’s lead to four, Pitt starting guard Marley Washenitz responded with an and-one, hitting a tough left-handed floater on the run and knocking down the free throw.
As both teams traded buckets near the end of the first quarter, Duquesne’s McConnell caught fire, hitting two threes of her own and finishing the quarter with a game-high seven points. Bernard followed with six, while the Panthers had a more balanced scoring load with six players scoring in the first. Heading into the second, the score was tied at 13.
In the second quarter, neither team could pull away, producing nearly identical stats in the first 15 minutes of the game. Duquesne’s Tess Myers got on the board with three points in the quarter, and for Pitt, Gabby Hutcherson caught fire.
With Hutcherson scoring along with Perkins, Pitt’s defense tightened up and the Panthers went on a 9-0 run. On the other side, Duquesne went 6:45 without scoring. but still managed to keep things close. At the break, Hutcherson led the Panthers with seven points on 3-for-4 shooting as they led 27-23.
To open the second half, Pitt’s Liatu King knocked down a layup off a dish from Washenitz. Shortly after, Aislin Malcolm jumped into a passing lane for a steal and drew a foul. Malcolm hit one free throw, extending the Panthers’ lead to a game-high seven in the first minute of the half.
Minutes later, Pitt’s Rapuluchi Ayodele converted an and-one lay-in, hitting the free throw to push the Panthers’ lead up to nine. However, the Dukes would not go away just yet.
Duquesne earned timely buckets from Jerni Kiaku (and-one layup) as well as Bernard (corner three) in the quarter to keep the Dukes in it. When Pitt’s lead was down to three, Cissoko-Stephens once again called a technical foul on Duquesne, this time against Bernard after missing a three.
Heading into the fourth, Pitt led 44-40. Duquesne earned three solid looks in the paint in the first two minutes of the fourth frame, but could only score two points (on a pair of Browne free throws) in the early going. Still, Duquesne’s defense continued to give the Panthers trouble, Ayodele picked up her fourth foul for the Panthers, and once the Dukes started knocking down timely shots in the coming minutes, they regained the lead.
With seven-and-a-half minutes to go, Brown kicked a pass to the corner, finding McConnell for a wide open three. The veteran drained her fourth three pointer of the game and gave the Dukes their first lead since the 6:49 mark in the second quarter, 45-44.
Minutes later, Myers knocked down a corner three of her own off a bounce pass from McConnell, extending Duquesne’s lead up to 48-45 with five minutes to play. With just over three minutes to play, Duquesne looked to Myers once again for a dagger of a three, this time coming off an assist from Kiaku to extend Duquesne’s lead to a game-high eight, 53-45.
In the final two minutes, Duquesne closed out the win behind strong defense and a pair of win-clinching free throws by Browne.
McConnell finished as Duquesne’s leading scorer, dropping a season-high 20 points on 4-for-6 shooting. Bernard followed with 11 points for the Dukes. For Pitt, King finished as the leader with 11 points, while Battle added eight.
With the win, Duquesne advances to 3-1 on the year, while the Panthers drop to 1-3 in the Tory Verdi era.
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Zac Weiss also contributed to this recap