David Borne | Sports Editor
Feb. 6, 2020
Heading into Sunday’s contest at the Siegel Center, it had been nearly a month since VCU lost a game. The Rams entered the day with an unblemished 7-0 record against Atlantic 10 opponents.
A full team effort from Duquesne put an end to VCU’s winning streak, as the Dukes pulled out a 79-76 victory.
“All the credit goes to our players,” Dan Burt said. “This is a great road win for us. This is a team that really guards you, they’re really strong. It’s great to get our eighth straight [win] against VCU here at the Siegel Center.
A career-high 23 points from Libby Bazelak paved the way for Duquesne’s offense.
The junior buried nine of her sixteen shots, knocking down two 3-pointers. Laia Sole finished second on the team in scoring with 16 points of her own.
A handful of Dukes finished with nine or more points on the day. The Red and Blue’s ability to break down VCU’s typically sturdy defense impressed their head coach.
“Libby played great. I thought her points were very quiet but very effective,” Burt said. “Paige [Cannon] hit a couple really big threes for us. Precious came in and was very effective on the offensive end and had a great block or two. Amanda Kalin… just a really great team win.”
While the final score was close, Burt acknowledged that it was a lot closer than it should’ve been. Duquesne held a 10-point lead with 34 seconds left on the clock. Despite the deficit, VCU did not lay down.
A deep-ball from Madison Hattix Covington pulled the Rams within seven. VCU followed up the basket with a steal and another jumper to trim the deficit to just five.
Covington-Hattix then forced another turnover and connected with Taya Robinson, who added VCU’s seventh point in just 12 seconds.
A free throw from Sole, followed by two more from Nina Aho, put Duquesne up six in the game’s final seconds. The Rams did manage to make another three, but finally ran out of time and Duquesne escaped with the win. Burt took responsibility for the tense final moments of the game.
“Your head coach needs to call a timeout a little bit sooner,” Burt said on the near disaster. “We’ve learned a lot about how to play and how not to play in the last minute, frankly the last 30 seconds, of a game. We almost lost that one because of me, I should’ve called a timeout earlier.”
A win is a win, and Duquesne will take it regardless of the score. The Dukes entered their week off after winning consecutive games, and will look to extend their streak to three this weekend against Saint Joseph’s.
Burt noted that players and staff would use their bye-week to help rest their bodies, as well as their minds.
The team took off on Monday and Tuesday, before getting back into practice mode later in the week. The practice plan would be dedicated to adjusting schemes, and touching up the team’s late game execution efforts.
The Dukes will host Saint Joseph’s at 2 p.m. this Sunday at La Roche University. The Hawks have gotten off to a brutal start in conference play and is still searching for its first Atlantic 10 win.
Saint Joe’s will have a chance to get in the win column before it heads to Pittsburgh, as the team will play Saint Louis on Thursday night in St. Louis.
If the Dukes can carry their momentum through the bye, they should be able to pull out another win.