Luke Henne | Editor-in-Chief
Jan. 12, 2023
The Duquesne women’s basketball team responded from Sunday’s 16-point road loss at George Mason by holding St. Bonaventure to just 11 first-half points en route to a 69-38 win at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse on Wednesday.
The Dukes never trailed in the 31-point win, holding a 20-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 36-11 lead at halftime. The Bonnies shot just 4-of-34 (11.8%) from the field in the first half, digging themselves into a hole that they’d be unable to recover from.
Duquesne’s Amaya Hamilton, who posted a double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds, said that the team was “really focusing” on playing consistently at the defensive end. She added that they were excited to have limited St. Bonaventure’s offensive output, particularly in the game’s first two quarters.
“I think our mindset was just, no matter how things are going on offense, our defense is the one thing that we can keep consistent,” Hamilton said. “Playing hard, playing smart, knowing the scout and playing together. When shots aren’t falling, as long as our defense is consistent, that’s what’s going to help us win games.”
Naelle Bernard, who posted a career-high 26 points for Duquesne in the victory, said that her performance “means a lot,” adding that she wasn’t happy with the way she’d shot the ball over the last few games. She also credited her teammates for finding her wide open so frequently.
Hamilton, who dished out three of the team’s 15 assists, stressed the importance of keeping the ball moving and getting it into Bernard’s hands.
“I think that’s one of the best parts about our offense, is that we can really get everyone involved,” Hamilton said. “It’s an equal-opportunity offense. Whoever’s the hot hand that night, we’re going to find them.
“Nae said she was disappointed in her last few games, but I think that she’s been playing great. I think that it’s really important for us down the stretch, in these conference games, to utilize Nae. She’s our hidden weapon.”
Duquesne Head Coach Dan Burt described Bernard as “arguably the hardest-working player” that he’s ever coached.
“Nae is always here in the gym and working really hard on her game,” Burt said. “She’s incredibly skilled. Every time she shoots the ball, you think it’s going to go in. Tonight, she’s 50% from the 3-point line, 50% from the field.
“Teams are keying on Tess Myers so much that Nae is getting that second defender, and she’s finding open looks. As we move forward, and she continues to shoot the ball well, it’s going to be a situation where teams probably are going to have to pick their poison between Nae and Tess Myers.”
Megan McConnell also posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, while also posting game highs in both assists (five) and steals (four). Precious Johnson also grabbed 10 boards for the Dukes in the victory.
Burt also said that after Sunday’s contest, he was happy to see the way in which his team responded, both during practice and during game action.
“What we were really challenging our team to do, more than anything, is to play with a sense of urgency, a sense of desperation,” Burt said. “Today, and yesterday, after a very poor performance in our last game, our sense of urgency was much different in practice.
“At the end of the shootaround today, which was our best practice that we’ve had in a couple of years, I said, ‘You guys have achieved it. Now you have to bottle it and do it in a game.’ Now, we have to do it again on Saturday, and going forward.”
Wednesday’s win was Duquesne’s 12th of the season, surpassing the total of 11 wins from a season ago.
The Dukes will return to action on Saturday, when they travel to the Bronx borough of New York for a date with Fordham.