WBB defeated by GW in offensive struggle

Brentaro Yamane | layout editor. Duquesne’s Libby Bazelak is guarded by George Washington’s Nya Lok during Wednesday’s game at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse. In 38 minutes of action, Bazelak recorded 13 points and nine rebounds.

by Brentaro Yamane | layout editor

Feb. 10, 2022

One obstacle that the Duquesne’s women’s basketball team has continued to try to overcome is maintaining a lead. Going into Wednesday night’s game against George Washington, the Dukes had lost seven games by two possessions or fewer. 

Desperate for an Atlantic 10 Conference victory, the Colonials (who entered the game 0-8 in conference play) battled until the very end and shocked Duquesne with a 50-48 victory at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

In the game, the Dukes shot 14-of-59 (23.7%) from the field and made only 13 of 20 free throws. One key to George Washington’s victory was forcing Duquesne to take many contested shots, something Head Coach Dan Burt addressed following the loss.

“Their ability to rebound the ball and play with great effort forced us to play the way that they wanted to make the game,” Burt said. “They were very physical with us off the ball. They did a very good job of rebounding the ball.

“And we got a lot of shots that we wanted for the ball to go in the basket. When you shoot 23% from the field, and you shoot 25% from the three-point line, and only 65% from the free throw line, you’re not giving yourself many chances to win.”

Duquesne used a 5-0 run in the final 1:28 of the second quarter, highlighted by a three-pointer from Precious Johnson with 51 seconds left, to take the momentum into halftime, although George Washington still held the lead at 21-20.

The Dukes carried that momentum throughout the third quarter, a frame capped off by a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Tess Myers to put Duquesne’s lead at five points (37-32), while simultaneously bringing many in the crowd to their feet.

It could’ve been a game-changing play. For George Washington, if it wanted to win its first A-10 game of the season, they’d have to be physical and fight for the win in the final quarter.

With 1:34 left in the game, Mayowa Taiwo, who scored a game-high 15 points, made a layup to give the Colonials a 43-42 lead that they never surrendered. Down the stretch, George Washington made seven of its eight free-throw attempts. Taylor Webster missed the last of those attempts with about one second to go, forcing Duquesne’s Amaya Hamilton to rebound the ball and chuck a half-court shot that wound up nowhere close to the hoop.

Burt was proud of his team’s defensive effort, but knows that they need to score more in order to win.

“I thought our kids exhibited a pretty good defensive effort overall,” Burt said. “But on offense, we needed to punch back instead of settling for contested jump shots. They were allowing us to shoot 15-footers, the mid-range was wide. And if it’s not falling, the first couple times, drive to get to the basket. And we didn’t do that.”

Libby Bazelak scored a team-high 13 points in the game and was one rebound shy of a double-double, while Megan McConnell contributed seven points and forced eight steals. The Dukes were also able to score 24 points off turnovers, and 16 of the team’s points came off the bench.

The Dukes have five more regular-season games before the A-10 tournament starts in the first week of March, the next of which will be a road contest against Massachusetts on Sunday.

The Dukes have lost three of their last four contests against the Minutemen, but have won 11 of 14 games against Massachusetts in a stretch that dates back to Feb. 20, 2008. “We’ve played with everybody to the final bell,” Burt said. “We just haven’t come up with enough W’s. And it’s not something that any of us here are used to. We are game planning and trying to find a way every day for countless hours.

“And I know that our kids have continued to have incredibly high spirits in positive spirits. They continue to come in on their own, and they continue to work out really, really hard.”