Benjamin Gottschalk | Staff Writer
Feb. 2, 2023
The Duquesne women’s basketball team was defeated twice this week, losing to UMass 83-61 at home Sunday afternoon before falling at George Washington 58-52 Wednesday night.
In Sunday’s contest, the Minutewomen jumped out to an early 20-5 lead in the first quarter, starting the game shooting 7-of-7 from the field and 4-of-4 from 3-point range. The Dukes tried climbing back into the game, but fell behind 33-12 at the end of the opening frame.
“They couldn’t have gotten off to a more-perfect start,” said Duquesne forward Amaya Hamilton. “If you subtract the first quarter, then we were neck-and-neck the entire game. I think we got off to a bad start, we kept fighting, but we just couldn’t get back from that first-quarter deficit.”
Duquesne’s offense struggled in the second, managing only to put up 13 points, while the Minutewomen’s offensive firepower never slowed. UMass grew its lead even further, going up 49-25 by halftime. UMass was able to jump out to such a big lead not only because of its stellar shooting, but also because of its offensive rebounding. The Minutewomen had a 17-9 advantage in the offensive rebounding department.
“A lot of times, we played really good defense for 20 seconds, and then they throw up a bad shot,” said Duquesne guard Megan McConnell. “It’s just really frustrating that after they throw up that shot, they get the rebound and get an easy putback. We have to capitalize more on that, and we will be fine.”
Hamilton scored 6 of her team-high 15 points in the second quarter in a 55-second span. Offensively, she was one of the few bright spots for Duquesne.
“Not even just on offense, she did a heck of a job on Sam Breen,” McConnell said. “I was really proud of her because I think that’s a good matchup, and Amaya was able to defend her well. On the offensive side, she was just doing it all. I’m really proud of her, and I love having her as my teammate.”
Hamilton was able to hold Breen, the reigning Atlantic 10 Conference Player of the Year, to just 12 points and eight rebounds, down from her season averages.
The third quarter was more of the same from the Minutewomen: offensive firepower and scoring at will.
“The thing that disappointed me without looking at the film was that we didn’t identify shooters early,” said Duquesne Head Coach Dan Burt. “And I think our kids thought, ‘Oh, we can identify them when they get to the 3-point line.’ These guys from UMass were making shots two or three feet off the line. And in the case of [Sydney] Taylor, five or six feet off the line. Credit goes to them. They’re talented players, and they made their shots.”
UMass had four players score in double digits, mainly led by Taylor, who scored a game-high 20 points and shot 6-of-11 from beyond the arc.
The Minutewomen, the defending conference tournament champion, showed how dominant they could be.
Not only was UMass selected to finish first in the A-10 preseason poll, but it also had 10 returning players from last season’s championship team.
“We ran into a very good basketball team, a very confident basketball team, a very well-coached basketball team, a team that has NCAA experience, and they’re very good,” Burt said. “They’re a championship ball club. And the way they play the first minute is the way they play the 38th and the 39th minute.”
In Wednesday’s game, George Washington got off to an early 10-2 lead in the first quarter. But a late surge gave the Dukes some life as they would tie it up at the beginning of the second quarter 10-10.
The middle of the second quarter was back and forth until GW scored 9 points to close the quarter. The Dukes went into the half trailing 25-20, despite shooting a measly 1-of-14 from 3-point range in the first half.
Duquesne’s 3-point shooting struggles continued in the second half, going 0-for-15 from deep in the final two quarters.
Solid offensive play from Duquesne let the Dukes’ deficit never get beyond 9 points, but George Washington maintained its lead for the entirety of the second half. McConnell finished with a double-double, leading the Dukes in both points (12) and rebounds (12).
The Colonials’ Mia Lakstigala ended the night with a game-best 21 points.
Duquesne will play next against VCU at home on Saturday afternoon. The Dukes have won 10 of the 13 meetings since the Rams joined the A-10 prior to the 2012-13 season, but they’ve lost each of the last two head-to-head contests.