by Spencer Thomas | staff writer
Feb. 17, 2022
Offenses exploded Wednesday evening at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse, as the Duquesne women’s basketball team bested Richmond 80-68 to earn its 10th win of the season.
The 80 points were a season-high mark for the Dukes.
The game’s first four minutes were run at a hectic pace, with both teams combining to average just 15 seconds on each possession.
However, Duquesne’s offense wasted no time getting going, scoring 17 in the opening quarter, highlighted by a 9-2 run coming out of the first media timeout.
Tess Myers hit a pair of threes from the center of the arc, and Fatou Pouye muscled out several tough buckets as the Dukes scored 25 points in the second quarter to enter halftime with a 42-32 lead.
The high-flying offensive play seemed to be part of the plan for Duquesne. By the final buzzer, the Dukes had put up 72 field-goal attempts, compared to just 55 from the Spiders.
Head Coach Dan Burt said that preparation for the game involved a lot of talk about the volume of shots taken by his team.
“That’s what we were looking for, to get a lot more shots up,” Burt said.
The Spiders didn’t shy away from the offensive shootout, however, and opened the second half on a 7-0 run. A timeout just over three minutes into the half allowed Burt to shore up his team’s problems, and they immediately went on a run and regained the momentum.
Midway through the third quarter, Megan McConnell drove to the basket, absorbed contact and finished a reverse layup, setting herself up for a three-point play to the delight of the crowd as well as her teammates.
Tess Myers notched her third three-pointer of the game with 4:45 left in the third quarter, and the Dukes proceeded to force a shot clock violation out of Richmond’s offense about a minute later. Those, combined with more gritty shots from Pouye, sent the Dukes on an 8-0 run that put the game out of reach.
Five Duquesne players scored in double figures, led by Pouye, who recorded 20 points in just 25 minutes of action.
Amaya Hamilton, who was one of the Dukes to score in double figures with 12 points, had a strong shot selection, according to her head coach.
“Instead of settling for jumpers, she attacked,” Burt said. “That’s where Amaya Hamilton is best, because she’s either going to make it at the rim or she’s going to get fouled.”
In addition to the strong play from both Hamilton and Pouye, Precious Johnson picked up a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while McConnell dished out six assists and secured 10 rebounds.
A big-time win for the Dukes was a welcome sight, as they snapped a four-game losing streak and avenged their 82-76 loss at Richmond on Jan. 1.
“We’ve grown a lot,” Hamilton said, “We came out with more of an edge. We’re slow on the boards, but today we out-rebounded them.”
The paint play Hamilton mentioned was arguably the greatest improvement showed by the Dukes in the two contests against the Spiders.
On Wednesday, the Dukes dominated under the basket, outscoring Richmond 46-28 on paint points. That growth was fueled by Duquesne’s improvement on the boards. The Dukes grabbed 45 rebounds on Wednesday, a 12-rebound improvement from their New Year’s Day matchup with Richmond.
Burt’s explanation for this improvement was simple.
“I challenged the kids to actually get fouls on the rebounds,” Burt said, “Knock somebody over, run through someone, whatever you need to do. When you have that level of aggressiveness, you’re going to end up outrebounding an opponent.”
Duquesne will look to keep its momentum going when they travel to Olean, N.Y. to square off with St. Bonaventure on Sunday afternoon. The Dukes bested the Bonnies 63-44 at home on Jan. 8 and have won nine of their last 10 games against St. Bonaventure in a stretch that began on Feb. 21, 2017.
With three games left in the regular season and the Dukes at 5-8 in Atlantic 10 Conference play, attaining a .500 record is possible before departing for Wilmington, Del., for the A-10 tournament.
That task seems manageable, as none of Duquesne’s remaining opponents currently boast a winning record in league play.
Wednesday’s win seemed to have revived a sense of optimism in the Duquesne locker room.
“When we play like this, it’s going to be hard for anyone to beat us,” Burt said.