Michael O’Grady | Staff Writer
Monday night was always going to be a challenge for Duquesne women’s basketball. Their schedule opened with a trip to Princeton University, home of the defending Ivy League champion Tigers who advanced to the second round of March Madness last year, and enter the season 40th in the NET rankings.
Princeton fought to open the season 1-0, defeating Duquesne 65-57, but the Dukes made it difficult for the hosts. A strong first quarter and a scoring outburst in the third had the Tigers reeling, but Duquesne faltered down the stretch and watched the game slip from their grasp in the final quarter.
Amaya Hamilton led the offense for Duquesne with a terrific shooting night, going six-of-eight from the field and nailing all five of her attempts from deep. She would finish with 18 points alongside Ayanna Townsend’s 13. Megan McConnell ended up with five points, but she hounded the rim for 12 rebounds and even had four steals.
However, a quirk in McConnell’s stat line is that all 12 of her rebounds were defensive, a glaring reflection on the entire team. Duquesne picked up 33 rebounds, only three of which came on offense. They managed just 4 second-chance points.
On the other side of the court, Princeton had 19 offensive boards which they turned into 15 points. This had been going on all game, but its impact became obvious during the Tigers’ fourth quarter run.
Duquesne’s defense was the story early on, limiting Princeton to just 6 points in the first quarter from 18 field attempts and four tries from three. Townsend scored 8 in the frame to support a 16-6 lead, but Princeton showed up in the second and finished the half leading by 2.
Hamilton’s first bucket came a minute into the third quarter, a three-pointer to tie the game at 29, and she hit her second a little more than a minute later while the Tigers and Dukes traded scores.
A flurry of made shots in the third resulted in 51 combined points, but it was Duquesne leading headed into the fourth up 52-49.
Townsend started the quarter with a made jumper, then the Dukes wouldn’t score again for over seven minutes. Princeton went on a 13-0 run in the final frame, turning a Duquesne lead into an insurmountable deficit.
Duquesne missed eight shots, and their offensive rebounding only gave them one second chance during that span.
Hamilton, on a hot shooting night, didn’t take a shot during the run, and no threes were attempted despite having shot 7-15 from beyond the arc earlier in the game.
The Dukes finally scored with 2:12 to go to cut the Tiger lead to 5, and it was on a Hamilton three.
Princeton sealed the win on the very next possession when Madison St. Rose responded with a three of her own. St. Rose dropped a game-high 26 points for the Tigers with five rebounds and four steals.
Head Coach Dan Burt said last week that he felt his team would need to score 65 points in order to win on Monday. They came up short, and as Burt predicted, “if we’re scoring in the 50s, we’re in trouble.”
Duquesne fought against a tournament team, but the offensive rebounding was their downfall in the end.
They’ll return to the court Saturday for a matinee at Niagara before spending Tuesday night in Washington for a game with Howard.