WBB opens campaign with 3-0 start

Peter Boettger | Staff Photographer | Duquesne’s Lauren Wasylson scored nine points and recorded six rebounds in the Dukes’ 67-46 win over Manhattan at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse on Sunday.

Benjamin Gottschalk | Staff Writer

Nov. 17, 2022

The Duquesne women’s basketball team remained undefeated after beating Manhattan 67-46 in Sunday afternoon’s non-conference matchup at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

After wins over Point Park, Brown and Manhattan to open the campaign, Duquesne is 3-0 for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

The Dukes entered Sunday with one day of rest following a 77-69 victory over Brown on Friday, a game in which Megan McConnell recorded her first-ever triple-double with 10 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds.

“She just didn’t have a triple-double,” Duquesne Head Coach Dan Burt said. “You look at the other stats, she completely filled that stat sheet against a good opponent. That was probably one of the best games I’ve seen her play.

“You don’t have many triple-doubles, you’re lucky if you have one every other year from your players. And I think we’re going to see a few more out of Meg before it’s all said and done.”

In Sunday’s contest, Duquesne survived an onslaught from Manhattan’s Dee Dee Davis, who posted game highs in both points (28) and rebounds (11), while shooting 41.4% from the field.

“Obviously, in the one day we had to prep, we knew they had a superstar on their team,” Duquesne forward Ayanna Townsend said. “So, we made sure that we were in her face. We were keen on her, and we made sure that we still respected the other players. But we knew that when the ball was in her hand, she was going to try to make a play.”

Davis was a particularly ball-dominant guard. Conversely, Duquesne took an approach centered around team play and ball distribution. The Dukes had six players score at least nine points, including Townsend, who had 15 points and seven rebounds, both of which were team highs.

The team-play mentality showed itself in the Dukes’ ball movement. Duquesne had 14 assists, while Manhattan had just seven.

McConnell put up a game-high six assists. She got into foul trouble early in the game with three fouls when she was guarding Davis, but still played the most of any Duquesne player with 32 minutes.

“She’s a high-level player with a very high basketball IQ,” Burt said. “It’s innate in her that she’s going to have that aggressiveness and tenacity, that she’s going to be an irritant in a sense to the opponent.”

Lauren Wasylson had nine points and six rebounds were vital factors in the victory. She is just happy to be playing again after missing last season due to ACL and ankle injuries.

“I knew coming in, the first couple of games might have been a little bit rocky,” Wasylson said. “It’s just such a blessing that I’m back out on the court, and I couldn’t be happier.”

Burt said that Wasylson’s “best basketball is ahead of her.”

“In my eyes, in the last week to 10 days, she really kind of gained that pop, that little bit of athleticism that she has back, and she’s moving a lot more fluidly,” Burt said. “So, that’s really good for her and for our team as we move forward.”

After a slow start, Duquesne found itself holding a 22-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Dukes led 35-22 at halftime, with Davis having scored all of the Jaspers’ first 15 points.

“She had 15 of their 15 points,” Burt said. “I went into the huddle, and I said, ‘Guys, I’ve never seen this in 25 years of Division I basketball, where one player has all 15 in the midpoint of the second quarter.’ I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.”

Manhattan cut its deficit to 43-38 with 4:45 to go into the third quarter, but a 15-0 run by the Dukes that stretched into the fourth quarter helped Duquesne pull away for good.

The Dukes’ fourth-quarter defense was strong, holding the Jaspers to just eight points on a 2-of-16 shooting performance.

Duquesne will be back in action on Saturday at Pittsburgh for the annual City Game. Since Burt’s first season as the head coach of Duquesne (2013-14), his teams are 5-3 against the Panthers.