Benjamin Gottschalk | Staff Writer
Feb. 23, 2023
The Duquesne women’s basketball team extended its win streak to three games, as the Dukes defeated Loyola of Chicago 71-61 on Wednesday night at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
With wins over St. Bonaventure by 32 points on Feb. 15 and over Richmond by 14 points on Saturday, the Dukes have now won all three games on the streak by double digits.
Duquesne’s Precious Johnson scored a career-high 21 points and finished with a game-high 11 rebounds, while forwards Ayanna Townsend and Amaya Hamilton combined for 28 points. Duquesne scored 42 points in the paint as a team and outrebounded Loyola of Chicago 40-30.
“Precious really was the biggest spark, more than anything, because we fed her the ball, and she scored consistently,” said Duquesne Head Coach Dan Burt. “Precious Johnson has played very good defense, just as well as her offensive game. Her defensive game has been really impressive. She has done an excellent job of being disciplined and keeping her arms high. I thought she was outstanding defending today.”
Burt added that he thinks Johnson is “an all-conference defensive player.”
Duquesne began the game shooting 1-of-6 from the field and fell behind 10-2 early. Johnson then scored 6 points, coupled with a 3-pointer from Tess Myers, which cut Loyola’s lead to 15-11. By the end of the first quarter, Duquesne was down just 19-15.
Townsend started the second quarter by scoring the Dukes’ first four points, which tied the game at 19 a piece. The Ramblers pulled back ahead, but the Dukes were always trailing closely behind. The remainder of the quarter was back-and-forth, with Duquesne down 33-30 at the half.
Loyola Chicago’s Sam Galanopoulos had 14 of her 20 total points in the first half. The Ramblers took a 3-point-heavy approach, putting up 16 3-point attempts in the first half, but only six went in. Duquesne took more of a drive-the-lane approach, scoring 20 points in the paint in the opening 20 minutes.
“[Galanopoulos] was 3-for-5 from the 3-point line,” Burt said. “We had a hard time guarding her. I think we really tried to pressure them early, and we were over-helping in a sense. They were able to get in the lane and have kickback 3s, especially in the first two quarters. We didn’t see that as much in the third and fourth. She’s a very good basketball player, beautiful stroke, and she played a good game.”
Hamilton added that it’s “easy to get down on yourself when you see the ball go in the net so many times from them on 3s.”
“So just having the confidence, knowing that this is not over,” Hamilton said. “No matter how many 3s they hit, we just got to keep fighting back.”
Duquesne began the third quarter playing lockdown defense, and after a 3-pointer from Hamilton and a layup from Johnson, Duquesne earned its first lead of the night, 37-35. Loyola of Chicago quickly tied it back up and, eventually, regained the lead 40-39.
The Dukes used the tail end of the third quarter to go on an 8-0 run to take back the lead 47-43. By the end of the third, the Dukes led 49-47.
“We thought that they were going to change how they were guarding us, but they really didn’t change their coverages,” Burt said. “In the first two quarters, I told the players that they have one post player who is our size. Their other posts are smaller. You don’t need to have multiple moves, you just need to go up strong. And I thought they did more of a better job of that in the third and the fourth.”
The fourth quarter was also back and forth, but Duquesne started out hot. Johnson and Hamilton combined to score the Dukes’ first 12 points in the quarter. Then, a Duquesne 10-0 run that began at the 5:23 mark helped the Dukes pull away and put the game out of reach.
With the victory over Loyola of Chicago, Duquesne set a new program record for most home victories (14) in a single season. During a commercial timeout at the 4:46 mark of the fourth quarter, Burt rallied his team.
“I just simply said, I want everybody to take a deep breath,” Burt said. “I want you to understand we need to take care of business for the next four minutes, and you’re going to have your name in the record book.
“‘With all the really good basketball teams that we have had here, over the last 15 or 16 years, your names are going to go in the record book for the most home wins.’ I don’t know if it did anything, but we won the game.”