Benjamin Gottschalk | Staff Writer
Nov. 10, 2022
The Duquesne women’s basketball team defeated Point Park by a 94-47 score in Monday night’s season opener at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
Behind Megan McConnell, who had game highs in points (17), rebounds (10) and steals (five), the Dukes coasted to victory. She also added three assists and had a perfect shooting night, going 6-for-6 from the field (1-for-1 from behind the arc) and 4-for-4 at the free-throw line.
Things were going so well for McConnell that after the buzzer sounded at the end of the third quarter, she heaved up a half-court shot that went in. The bucket didn’t count, but it was an example of her all-around performance on the evening.
She committed to getting stronger by adding 19 pounds of muscle during the offseason.
“That’s complete dedication to wanting to win at the highest level, by adding that kind of size and maintaining that,” Duquesne Head Coach Dan Burt said.
The Dukes were also aided by Tess Myers, who put up 16 points, four rebounds and two steals. Burt believes that Myers, who went 6-for-15 (2-for-9 from three-point range), will only get better.
“Tess Myers is a very, very good shooter and has only gotten better with the ball,” Burt said. “I didn’t think we saw that a lot tonight. She started out a little slow. I think we could have done some things to help her. That’s on me.”
Although Myers started off the game 0-for-5 from three, Burt has no issue with her taking as many shots as she wants. Last year, Myers was two three-pointers shy of tying the Duquesne all-time record for most three-point field goals made in a season (90).
“All the players on our team have the green light to shoot it. You can miss one or two, I don’t have a problem,” Burt said. “You’re never going to come out if you miss two, anybody on the roster. It’s when we get to three and four, then we have to think about maybe coming out.
“In Tess Myers’ case, she’s supposed to shoot it every freaking time she has the ball. She’s that good.”
Point Park didn’t score in double figures. Ari Bleda had a team-high eight points and a team-high-tying seven rebounds.
Turnovers were a huge factor in the game. Point Park had 26 turnovers, while Duquesne had just 12. The Dukes forced 14 steals and scored 35 points off Pioneers’ turnovers.
“This team has a lot of grit,” McConnell said. “We go hard every day in practice, no matter if it’s a day before a game, scrimmage or whatever. We all love each other, that’s what makes our team special. It showed out there today how close we were.”
On the other hand, Duquesne had two other players score in double figures. Ayanna Townsend put up a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Amaya Hamilton had 14 points, nine rebounds, and a game-high seven assists.
“Yanni (Ayanna Townsend) is a kid that is an absolute jewel,” Burt said. “I believe, at the end of this year, she’ll be an all-conference player, and that means nothing to her. The only thing that matters to her is wins. She’s a very good team player.”
Townsend, a Pittsburgh native, is in her first season with the Dukes after transferring from Xavier.
“At first, I was a little nervous just because it was my first game,” Townsend said. “I enjoyed every moment of it. Obviously, some stuff I got to work on, but [I] was very happy today.”
The Dukes grabbed the lead early, 6-5, with 6:11 left in the first quarter, and never surrendered.
“We used our athleticism and our size to our advantage tonight,” Burt said.
The Dukes, picked ninth in the A-10 preseason poll, were hoping for a commanding win to start their season, and they got it.
“It was definitely a great team win to start off,” McConnell said. “Previous years, we weren’t able to get that win in the beginning of the year, so I think going forward, we have the confidence, and we have the energy. It was really helpful.”
Duquesne will return to action on Friday, when it hosts Brown at the fieldhouse.