Brentaro Yamane | Multimedia Editor
Disappointment is an understatement to describe how the start of the new year was for Duquesne’s women’s basketball Head Coach Dan Burt. However, he said they righted themselves to get back in the win column with a 17-point win over George Washington University.
Burt’s Dukes started off the new year at home against Atlantic-10 Conference opponent George Mason on Sunday afternoon. After having a whole week off to prepare, it might have seemed that the Dukes were going to come out and play their basketball. However, the offensive bursts from the Patriots were too much for the Dukes resulting in a 101-75 loss at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
“I will say that I’m incredibly embarrassed,” Burt said. “Because in 17 years – outside of UConn – I don’t know if I’ve ever given up 100 points to anybody, let alone at home.”
The historic output Duquesne allowed was less an indictment on them, but more a credit to a Patriots team that seemingly couldn’t miss a shot.
“You have to give a lot of credit to George Mason. We threw everything at them. Every defense that we have. Zone, man, switching everything. Press, not press,” Burt said. “The basketball hoop was like a hula hoop to them today. It was incredibly large, when you go 18-for-35 from the 3-point line.”
The Dukes had a 31-27 lead at the end of the first quarter, but could not keep pace in the second. They were outscored 21-6 in the second quarter, and entered the locker room down double digits.
“From an offensive standpoint, we didn’t play a bad game. But you just can’t go long spells without scoring the ball. And we did that at times tonight,” Burt said. “In the second quarter in particular and then in the fourth quarter.”
One of the most impactful scorers for the Patriots was Sonia Smith, who scored a career-high 30 points, shooting five-of-10 from 3 and finished with nine rebounds.
“We knew that she was a three-level scorer. Mid-range, shoot the three, attack the basket. And she did what she wanted against our man and against our zone.” Burt said. “She just played the best game of her career.”
It wasn’t just Smith that was shooting efficiently. The whole Patriots team performed well, shooting 37-of-66 from the field and 18-of-35 from 3-point range, and nine-of-11 on free-throw shooting.
Despite having five players score in double figures, Duquesne only shot 25-of-64 from the field and eight-of-33 from distance. Megan McConnell led the balanced effort with 14 points and seven assists.
But it was simply a record-setting day for the Patriots.
“They’re a really good basketball team. And today everything that they shot went in,” Burt said. “In the fourth quarter, anytime a kid took a shot, it was just like: is it going to go in? It was their day.”
However, the Dukes bounced back in their second game of the new year after defeating George Washington 71-54 on Wednesday night at The Charles E. Smith Center. Freshman Gabby Grantham-Medley led the Dukes with a team-high 13 points while Amaya Hamilton finished with a double-double. Coach Burt was happy with the win and the way his team performed.
“It was a complete game. We played very well with many contributions from the entire roster. You can’t say enough about our leading scorer Gabby Grantham being 6-of-12 and being aggressive and a scorer, and we certainly needed that,” Burt said. “I think Amaya Hamilton with 12 points and 11 rebounds and really played under control was simply outstanding and she’s a matchup nightmare. We defended well and executed offensively, good day.”
The Dukes were much better shooting the ball, finishing 28-of-62 from the field while the Revolutionaries only shot 17-of-52. George Washington entered the game as the 16th best scoring defense in the country, allowing only 54 points per game making the fact that the Dukes scored 71 extra impressive. The Dukes led 35-32 at halftime, but went on a 3-pointer fueled 9-2 run to begin the third quarter that set the tone for the rest of the game.
“That’s what we’re looking for from the people off the bench,” Burt said.
“Jerni has explosiveness and speed and there’s not that many people that can match. Gabby is a difficult matchup also because she’s a kid that is strong and play through the air and she can square her shoulders to the basket and make jump shots with a good amount of lift.”
After a balanced offensive performance on Sunday, Burt praised his bench’s production on both sides of the ball against GWU.
“They were outstanding on both ends of the floor offensively and defensively that you cannot say enough good things about them.”
The Dukes will travel back on the road this weekend as they will take on Saint Joseph’s at noon on Saturday.
“Saint Joseph’s is a completely different team than George Washington. They’re going to be very set driven and very deliberate and skilled,” Burt said. “It’s always a tough environment at Hawk Hill, we’ll look forward to worrying about that tomorrow, and we’ll let the kids enjoy tonight.”