Duquesne WBB team set to face UMass in A-10 battle

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Dukes guard Chassidy Omogrosso, right, drives up the court against UMass during the 2017-18 season. The Dec. 31, 2017, DU win was Head Coach Dan Burt’s 100th career victory.

David Borne | Staff Writer

Feb. 7, 2019

It’s been a year full of ups and downs for the Duquesne women’s basketball team. After surviving what was a loaded non-conference schedule, Duquesne seemingly found its rhythm at the beginning of conference play. Although, after a strong 5-1 start against Atlantic 10 opponents, Duquesne has dropped its last two games.

The Dukes (11-10, 5-3) stand piled in the middle of the A-10 standings. With a date with a slumping UMass team next on the schedule, Duquesne has a chance to gain important ground in the standings.

Duquesne has definitely been able to find more of an offensive rhythm as of late than it did during non-conference play. Senior guards Chassidy Omogrosso and Julijana Vojinovic have had much more success from beyond the arc lately, and are shooting .417 and .273 from deep, respectively.

Of course, .273 isn’t a great number for a proven marksman like Vojinovic, but it is a strong improvement over her season average of .238.

Kadri-Ann Lass has been pulling the weight for Duquesne’s frontcourt on both ends of the floor, and leads the team in scoring on the season (11.2 ppg). Paige Cannon has also been solid for the Dukes below the basket again this year, locking up the majority of Duquesne’s minutes at the No. 4 spot.

UMass (11-11, 3-5) has a young core that has shown flashes of brilliance, but at other times, their lack of experience has shown, as well. The Minutewomen have nine underclassmen on their roster. Junior guard/forward Hailey Leidel leads the team in scoring  at 13.4 ppg alongside sophomore Bre Hampton-Bey (9.4).

Leidel is also one of the top rebounders in the conference, pulling down 7.2 boards per game.

In last season’s matchup between the two teams, Duquesne squeaked out a 60-57 win at home on Dec. 31. Duquesne has won 11 of its last 12 games against UMass.

One key to Duquesne’s success against UMass will be its ability to get physical. Duquesne needs to control the boards on both ends of the court, and crash the lane on offense in Thursday’s game. Rebounding and their inability to get to the free throw line were two of the Dukes’ biggest issues in their most recent loss to Fordham.

Duquesne does often live and die by the three-ball, but it would be huge if they can take advantage of UMass’s younger post presence. Consistently getting trips to the free throw line would take plenty of weight off of shooters like Omogrosso and Vojinovic’s shoulders.

Of course, there is still just under a month left in the regular season. However, the game against UMass could wind up being one of the most important for Duquesne’s season. The Dukes need to march into Amherst and play the kind of basketball that they have proven to be capable of over these last few seasons.

If they do, it could end up being a turning point on the season. Especially considering a win could provide some much-needed momentum to carry into Duquesne’s upcoming game against Dayton on Feb. 10.

February could end up being a make-or-break month for this Dukes team, and it will all begin Thursday night in Amherst. Tip off is at 7 p.m., and the game will be streamed live for viewers on ESPN+.

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