David Borne | Staff Writer
Following the men’s basketball team’s blowout loss to Fordham in the first half of Duquesne’s basketball doubleheader on Feb. 10, it would have been easy for Duquesne fans to expect more success in the second portion of the afternoon. However, the women’s team played to a similar result.
Led by a 17-point effort from junior guard Alyssa Monaghan, the Saint Joseph’s Hawks (12-12, 7-5 A-10) picked apart Duquesne’s defense and grabbed a 69-50 win in their second matchup against the Dukes this season.
The Dukes handled what was then a shorthanded Hawks roster with ease in their first meeting on Jan. 24 in a 61-42 Duquesne win. With a now-healthy Saint Joseph’s squad, and Duquesne playing without a key piece in Conor Richardson, the rematch was quite different than the first time the teams met.
Following the loss, head coach Dan Burt immediately expressed his displeasure with how his team handled themselves, playing without their defensive stalwart on the floor.
“The absence of Conor Richardson is clearly, clearly felt by our team. We were embarrassed from the opening tip to the last minute,” Burt said. “We don’t play with any sort of energy or toughness, especially when things are not going correctly for us on the offensive end, or we’re not making shots.
“We don’t guard people,” he continued. “We let them make every pass that they wanted. We’re definitely fake tough. We think we’re tough, we think we’re good … We certainly didn’t help our cause tonight. There’s people out there that have called us soft, and we are. If you can’t sit down and guard after you miss [a] shot, then you’re soft.”
The cause that Burt referred to is Duquesne’s effort to land an at-large bid in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.
After losing to Dayton earlier in February, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the Dukes would need to win the remainder of their games — and have a strong showing in the conference tournament — to qualify for an at-large.
Burt acknowledged that even though his team has seen much success so far this season, his team doesn’t take pride in regular season success. The bar for a program that wins at least 20 games every season is set higher than that.
“You can’t play like that and expect to win a championship or expect to be an at-large team to the NCAA Tournament,” he said. “We looked like a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. We looked like a bunch of kids who didn’t care.”
The majority of Burt’s criticism stemmed from a weak performance on both sides of the ball from his guards. Chassidy Omogrosso finished with 11 points, shooting just 4-13 from the field.
Julijana Vojinovic was right behind her with 10 points, shooting 3-10 on the day.
The pair was criticized for their effort defensively, as well. Burt mentioned that he would even bench his leading scorer, Vojinovic, if she fails to tighten up her defensive efforts in the future.
A loss like this, especially at this point in the season, is a wakeup call. March is right around the corner, and it’s go time. Anything can happen on any given night in the A-10, and Duquesne dropping a home game in the way it did to Saint Joseph’s is a harsh reminder.
Perhaps it may even be a motivator, and something that gets this Duquesne team going. Getting “embarrassed,” as Burt put it, on their home court could pump up the team and bring the necessary energy back to the locker room.
This Duquesne squad has done enough to prove that it is not one to hang their heads and let a bad loss get them down in the dumps.
Their perseverance will be put to the test on the road at Saint Louis on Feb. 14 (late), a game in which Burt assured his team will have Richardson for. The Billikens (14-11, 8-4 A-10) are coming off a 70-66 win over Rhode Island on Feb. 10.
Burt stated that in accordance with HIPAA law, he could not go into details about Richardson’s injury. He did mention that she has passed all medical tests and is ready to get back in game action.
With a recharged Richardson, and hopefully an inspired Dukes team, Duquesne should be able to get back into top form. Her presence will make an immediate impact as a healthy Dukes roster can build some momentum heading into March.
“When people look at Conor Richardson, she averages about 8 points per game,” Burt said. “But people don’t see the leadership and the energy that she brings until something like that happens.”