Michael O’Grady | Staff Writer
It was surely a long ride back from Bowling Green for Duquesne women’s basketball on Monday night. The Dukes surrendered a game-winning buzzer beater to lose a game they led by as many as 7.
Granted, that was Duquesne’s largest lead of the game, but it seemed at that point they’d turned the game around. After trailing for most of the first half, the Dukes overtook Bowling Green with a 25-9 third quarter, led by Amaya Hamilton with 15 points. Hamilton finished with 28 points, a career high for the fifth-year senior. She also added nine rebounds, a block and a steal.
Ultimately, the scoring dried up for the Dukes in the fourth, and despite a game-tying layup by Hamilton with nine seconds left, Bowling Green guard Amy Velasco sank a jumper from the paint as time expired.
The game didn’t seem to be destined for that thrilling finish. The Falcons were the better team in the first half. While both teams were slow to get going from tip-off, Duquesne’s only real momentum in the first quarter was a 7-0 run that made the game 7-4. Neither team shot well and turned over the ball multiple times, but by quarter’s end it was Bowling Green leading 17-14 thanks to their marginally better three-point shooting.
Bowling Green would lead by as many as 6 early in the second quarter before Duquesne went on another 7-0 run. One particularly impressive Duke possession was at this time, when Hamilton and Megan McConnell each had an offensive rebound on two straight missed threes, and Hamilton was able to put hers in for 2 points. On the next play, Precious Johnson made a steal and Nae Bernard made a three to put the Dukes ahead by one. Bowling Green responded with a three of their own, and from there was a rare burst of scoring.
The 90-second run of a combined 14 points culminated in Bowling Green going on a 10-2 run to end the first half, again off the strength of their three-point shooting which was 4-of-5 in the second quarter. Duquesne just wasn’t able to keep up behind the arc, shooting 1-of-6 in the second another troubling issue was their lack of bench scoring. Johnson hit a jumper in the first quarter, and that was the only two points their bench had all game. Hamilton, Bernard and McConnell scored all but 11 of the Dukes’ total points. If they got cold, there weren’t others to rely on.
That became irrelevant in the third quarter, as coming back from the half, Hamilton went off for 15 points with 10 added between McConnell and Ayanna Townsend. Bowling Green’s strong shooting to close out the first half fell off a cliff. The Falcons shot 3-of-18 total and missed all eight of their tries for 3. Duquesne rode the momentum swing to the end of the quarter, leading by their game-high 7 points.
But the wave wouldn’t last. Bowling Green held the Dukes to just 1 point in nearly four minutes to begin the fourth, and they eked back into the game on free throws. The Falcons’ Lexi Fleming hit a 3 seconds later to break their streak of nine straight missed 3-pointers. With the monkey off their back, Bowling Green made a stop and scored again. As time dwindled, the lead changed three times in one minute. With 1:28 remaining, it was 64-63 Duquesne following a Hamilton jumper.
A critical stop was wasted when Hamilton missed with 47 seconds remaining, and Fleming struck again with another three to put the Falcons up two. Hamilton redeemed herself by tying it with nine seconds on the clock, and Fleming turned it over with three to go. The Dukes turned it over themselves after a timeout, enabling Velasco’s dagger.
The bitter ending dropped Duquesne to 3-2. They’ll start a four-game homestand on Sunday against Delaware before they begin Atlantic-10 Conference play with a game versus Fordham on Tuesday.