By Natalie Fiorilli | The Duquesne Duke
One more win. That’s all it will take for the Duquesne women’s basketball team to earn its first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Dukes are now one step closer to the big dance with a 56-52 victory over Saint Louis in the semifinal of the Atlantic 10 Tournament Saturday afternoon. Duquesne is headed to the A-10 Championship for the first time in program history, facing George Washington at 12 p.m. Sunday.
“There were so many unheralded performances by our group,” Coach Dan Burt said. “Now, we get to play a team that beat us earlier, and to me has a top five draft pick. What greater challenge could you have this time of year?”
Freshman forward Kadri-Ann Lass stepped up as the front-runner in Duquesne’s win over the Billikens, racking up 15 points and nine rebounds. Senior guard Deva’Nyar Workman tallied 10 points and eight rebounds, and senior guard April Robinson scored 12 points.
Duquesne opened the first quarter on a 9-0 run, yet Saint Louis would close out the quarter down by only four points, at 17-13. The Billikens went on to outshoot the Dukes 12-4 in the second quarter, taking a 25-21 lead going into halftime. Duquesne was held scoreless for the remaining 6:35 of the first half.
Before the start of the second quarter Lass made nine of her 15 points, shooting 4-5 from the field and knocking down a three-pointer.
“[The team’s mentality] was just to keep playing,” Lass said. “Even if you miss one shot, just keep playing. Don’t worry about it, the next thing is more important.”
A Robinson 3-pointer in the third quarter tied the game, but Saint Louis kept its advantage until a jumper from Robinson placed the Dukes ahead by one point with just over a minute remaining in the quarter. The Dukes would head into the fourth quarter up 38-35.
The teams exchanged leads once more, but with 22.3 seconds left Robinson knocked down a three-pointer that would decide the game.
“No matter the scoreboard, we continue to play Duquesne basketball,” Robinson said, referring to her crucial 3-pointer at the end of the game. “The shot at the end, I was a little unsure whether to shoot it or not, but I got it. All fourteen girls were ecstatic in the locker room, the loudest I’ve heard them. And they are some loud girls.”
George Washington secured its spot in the A-10 Championship for the second consecutive season, topping fifth-seeded VCU by a final score of 72-58 Saturday morning.
Duquesne saw its first loss of A-10 play against George Washington at the Palumbo Center in January, snapping the Dukes’ 15-game winning streak. The top-seeded Colonials tied Duquesne and Saint Louis for first place in the conference during the regular season.