Brentaro Yamane | Staff Writer
Feb. 18, 2021
Precious Johnson scored a career-and-game-high 20 points to help Duquesne (4-8, 3-5 Atlantic 10) defeat Rhode Island 71-63 in the team’s first game at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse on Thursday night. It was Duquesne’s first game on campus in 712 days.
Duquesne realized how ‘precious’ Precious really was against Rhode Island (8-7, 8-4). Not only did the sophomore center lead the team in scoring, but she also led the team in rebounds with nine and blocks (two), all while shooting an efficient 80% from the field. Duquesne Head Coach Dan Burt was proud of Johnson’s performance against the Rams, especially since she missed the past two games due to an injury coupled with the fact that she had not played in a game in over a month because the team was paused due to COVID-19-related issues.
“Precious Johnson was outstanding tonight, and she happens to play very well against Rhode Island,” Burt said. “I really didn’t know what I was expecting from Precious tonight; she was winded in practice the past couple of weeks and I just wondered how she would play tonight.”
Burt wanted to win this one badly because it was the team’s first game in the new arena.
“We’re home. It feels good to be 1-0. We won 74% of the games at home in the past 15 years before playing in the new arena. Today, we started another streak,” Burt remarked.
The Dukes trailed 17-15 at the end of the first quarter after Rhode Island’s Catherine Cairns drained two 3-point shots in the final two minutes of the frame. Cairns connected on a game-high five 3-pointers and is the team’s leader in 3-pointers made on the season.
At one point in the second quarter, Rhode Island had a 25-19 lead. Then, Duquesne’s Ny Langley forced a turnover which led to a layup, giving the Dukes a boost. A Rhode Island shot-clock violation fired up Duquesne’s bench with 13 seconds left in the half, with players and coaches jumping out of their chairs when it happened. Duquesne would go on a 14-6 run to end the second quarter to take a 37-33 lead into halftime.
Early in the third quarter, Duquesne had a comfortable 48-38 lead as Johnson continued making layups and Amaya Hamilton hit a big 3-pointer early on. After a media timeout, though, Rhode Island would trim Duquesne’s lead to two as the Rams’ Cairns and Marta Vargas made 3-pointers, and Marie-Paulie Foppossi scored a layup.
Duquesne continued to lead in the fourth quarter, and just when it looked like Rhode Island was looking to make a comeback, the Dukes would make sure to secure the victory.
Cairns and the Rams’ leading scorer, Emmanuelle Tahane, both scored a team-high 17 points. Tahane scored 12 points in the first half, but only scored five in the second one.
Duquesne freshman Megan McConnell continued to impress, posting a team-high four assists. Hamilton was the only Duke to play for over 30 minutes.
After tonight’s game, Duquesne leads the all-time series 37-21 and Burt is now 13-2 against the Rams in his head coaching career at Duquesne.
The win was historical for Duquesne, and it gives the team some momentum going forward.
“Throughout the whole season, the theme is constant change. We don’t know what will happen to our team; we’ll be ready for whatever comes at us,” Burt said. “Right now, we’re happy and we’re sane.”