David Borne | Staff Writer
With a 78-50 win over La Salle at the A.J. Palumbo Center Wednesday night, the Duquesne women’s basketball team successfully extended its win streak to five and improved its overall record to 15-3 on the season, and 5-0 in Atlantic 10 play.
Duquesne and Dayton remain the only two unbeaten teams in the conference following Dayton’s 63-62 win over the previously unbeaten Fordham Rams on Wednesday.
The opening minutes of the matchup between Duquesne and La Salle suggested that the game may wind up closer than expected. The Explorers came out of the gate strong, and led the favored Duquesne team 7-2 after two minutes of play.
Unfortunately for La Salle head coach Jeff Williams and his team, momentum quickly changed hands. Duquesne held the Explorers to just two points for the remainder of the quarter and went on a 22-2 scoring run to take a commanding 25-9 lead.
Dukes coach Dan Burt mentioned that despite La Salle’s early success in the paint and on the scoreboard, both he and his team were confident in their ability to quickly turn things around.
“There was concern because it was 7-2, but I don’t think there was any worry or paranoia. We weren’t losing our minds about it. It was 7-2, it was early … we recognized in the [scouting report] that it was really important and we had to get back defensively and stop them in transition,” Burt said.
“We knew that we were going to be able to do that, we just had to sit down and discipline ourselves to do that or [we] were going to substitute and put other people in who were going to do it,” he added.
While La Salle’s offense was forced to deal with shooting woes and a number of mental lapses that resulted in unforced turnovers, Duquesne juniors Chassidy Omogrosso and Julijana Vojinovic began to heat up.
The pair of guards finished the night with a combined 44-point effort, shooting a collective 8-11 from 3-point range.
As a whole, Duquesne finished 10-21 from three, and held La Salle to just a 3-14 night from downtown.
The pair proved to be more than La Salle could handle, and the Explorers were unable to come up with any way to slow them down. Omogrosso mentioned that once either her or Vojinovic get going, it opens up plenty of opportunities for the other.
“Once somebody starts making it, it’s contagious. I know that me and [Vojinovic] try to feed off of each other. If they get on her, they have to take me or vice versa. It’s really like, pick your poison,” Omogrosso said. “We’ve been getting in the gym, a lot of us have been working on our shot and just trying to stay consistent with it.”
The two spearheaded a 31-point third quarter for Duquesne, the team’s highest total from one period this season.
With her 23 points against La Salle, Omogrosso jumped Carol Burchlaw, LynnDee Howell and Maureen Major and now sits 24th for scoring in program history with 1,042 points.
On top of Omogrosso and Vojinovic’s strong performance, Duquesne had seven additional players find their way into the scoring column. Additionally, every player on the roster managed to grab at least one rebound.
Junior forward Kadri Ann-Lass finished with eight points, grabbing four rebounds in the process. She added three blocks, and is now just six away from the program’s all-time record.
Freshman guard Amanda Kalin finished with a career-high seven rebounds. Her previous high was five in Duquesne’s 81-54 win at Winthrop earlier this season.
Forward Eniko Kuttor contributed six points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Paige Cannon added seven points and three boards.
Duquesne’s next test comes Sunday, Jan. 21, back at the A.J. Palumbo Center against Natalia Butler and George Mason. Butler, a UConn transfer, leads the conference in rebounding (15.4 per game) and is tied with teammate Nicole Cardano-Hillary as the Atlantic 10’s highest scorer (18.2 ppg). Both teams met in last season’s A-10 tournament quarterfinal round, a game that Duquesne won 66-55.
George Mason (15-4, 4-1) is much improved this year, but the Dukes will look to remain unbeaten and improve their A-10 record to 6-0 with another win on Sunday.