Duquesne women fall to St. Joseph’s in A-10 quarterfinals

Addie Smith | Sports Editor

After a close first half, the Duquesne women’s basketball couldn’t find a way to overtake St. Joseph’s in 73-60 loss in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic-10 tournament Saturday.
Despite great performances from junior forward and A-10 First Team honoree Wumi Agunbiade, who scored a team-high 20 points, and senior guard and A-10 Defensive Player of the Year Jocelyn Floyd with a game-high four steals and a team-high 36 minutes, the Dukes could not capitalize and shot 34.8 percent throughout the game.
Coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said the Red and Blue never gave up, but didn’t play its best basketball.
“I’m proud of our players and the effort, that we never quit and just continued to try to chip away,” McConnell-Serio said. “We made runs, and every time we made a run they answered. They [St. Joseph’s] are good. They’re a very talented team … We struggled to finish, especially early on and that set the tone for the rest of the game.”
With sophomore guard and 3-point shooter Belma Nurkic still nursing an injured wrist while playing, the Dukes’ only shot eight 3-pointers and made two, while the Hawks shot eight of 14 from behind the arc, led by three 3-pointers from the A-10’s Most Improved recipient junior guard Erin Shield, who ended with a game-high 21 points.
This loss to St. Joseph’s came nearly a month after the Dukes regular season 69-68 loss to the Hawks in overtime at the A.J. Palumbo Center on Feb. 13.
Floyd said that the team’s philosophy and mindset didn’t change from the last time they played the Hawks.
“We just tried to defend them like we did when we played them the first time,” Floyd said. “They were just hitting shots.”
Floyd added that the Hawks gained momentum in the second half.
“They were just executing plays,” she said. “We couldn’t find an answer … We were getting open shots but we just couldn’t finish.”
The Dukes also ran into foul trouble as sixth-year senior guard Vanessa Abel, freshman guard April Robinson, Floyd, Agunbiade and junior guard Oditte Odisho racked up a total of 19 personal fouls. The Hawks added 21 points from the free-throw line alone, while the Dukes only managed 12 points.
McConnell-Serio said that the fouls changed the way that some of the team, but not all of the members were affected by it.
“Our players really buy into our defense,” McConnell-Serio said. “They have a lot of freedom when to gamble and when their teammates have their back, going for steals. And I think when you get in foul trouble, it changes the way you play… Being in foul trouble, [we] obviously had to take players off … I almost didn’t have a point guard on the floor at one time.”
The Dukes are now waiting to see if they will make the NCAA tournament or if they will head to the WNIT again. The Dukes lost in the first round of the WNIT last year 68-63 in overtime to Cincinnati.