Dukes lose heartbreaker to La Salle

Aaron Warnick | Photo Editor
Aaron Warnick | Photo Editor

Rich Donahue | The Duquesne Duke

For Wumi Agunbiade, Orsi Szecsi, Raegan Moore and Oditte Odisho, Wednesday night marked their curtain call at the A.J. Palumbo Center. Senior Night had finally come for the second winningest class in Duquesne women’s basketball history. With a chance to leave a lasting impression on the Duquesne faithful, the Dukes let the curtain fall on them. The visiting La Salle Explorers (13-14, 8-7) produced a late comeback and rallied for a stunning 68-63 win over the Dukes.

Duquesne falls to 9-6 in Atlantic 10 and 17-11 overall with the loss.

A frustrated Dan Burt did not sugar coat things following the game.

“The story of our season is what you saw in the last 5 minutes,” Burt said.

The Dukes once again led their opponent for the majority of the second half by as many as 11 points. But as cruel fate would have it, the Red & Blue could not put the Explorers away. A layup from graduate student Leeza Burdgess put the Explorers ahead by one point with 2:26 left in the game, a lead they would not relinquish.

Agunbiade, who led the Dukes with 23 points, said simple mistakes cost the team the victory.

“We just did not make any plays,” Agunbiade said. “We did not make the stops we were supposed to make and it was just simple things.”

Both teams started out sluggish in Wednesday night’s game. Through the first 10 minutes, Duquesne jumped out to a 14-9 lead thanks in large part to their trap defense. The Dukes forced nine first-half turnovers, finishing with 14 forced for the game. Coach Burt stated he wanted to go back to the trap, but their inability to score hindered that.

“I would have liked to play more 2-2-1 defense,” Burt said. “I wanted to do more around the six or seven minute [mark], but we could not make a basket. You can’t press if you cannot make a basket.”

Coming into the game, the month of February had not been kind to the Red & Blue. The Dukes had dropped four of five matchups. Hopes for an Atlantic 10 regular season title had gone out the window.

The only way the Red & Blue can make their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament is to win the A-10 tournament, according to Burt.

“The road to the NCAA Tournament is through the conference tonight,” Burt said. “We are now going to have to play on four consecutive days and lengthen our bench.”

Odisho, who started her first game of the season, said that she feels their best is yet to come.

“I don’t feel we have played our best basketball yet,” Odisho said. “I think we have better days ahead of us.”

The Dukes final game of the regular season will be March 1 at Rhode Island. The first game in the A-10 Tournament will be on March 5 against an opponent yet to be determined.