Sean McKean | Staff Writer
A big second quarter helped Duquesne shock Atlantic-10 Conference leader Richmond at Cooper Fieldhouse, with a 72-59 victory. It was the Spiders’ first conference loss of the season, and drops them to 17-4.
There was very little separating the Dukes and Spiders in the first quarter. Up until the media timeout, it was the defense that allowed Richmond to eke ahead while scores remained few and far between. As the quarter rolled on, Grace Townsend’s and Katie Hill’s efforts slowly tallied up points for the Spiders. However, Jerni Kiaku went five-for-five in free throws and had a pair of fast-break points to give Duquesne a 15-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was when Duquesne pulled away. Outscoring Richmond 21-10 highlighted by three basket-and-fouls, one from Kiaku and two Anna Townsend. The Dukes also had other assets for points, with Lauren Wasylson tallying five points and Megan McConnell tallying seven. The efforts from Siobahn Ryan, however, kept the Spiders within range of Duquesne, ending the first half 36-23.
Not only was Kiaku perfect from the free throw line, she muscled up several and-one baskets. When she was asked about it, Kiaku was interrupted by teammate Amaya Hamilton.
“Jerni’s been hitting the gym, and you could tell.”
Then, Kiaku said, “It’s something I’ve been working on, just not letting a miss affect the next free throw. So just keeping myself focused.”
Coming out of the locker room from halftime, the Dukes were led by Megan McConnell and Anna Townsend, with McConnell sinking consecutive 3-pointers and Townsend showing strength in the paint. They weren’t only strong offensively, as a steal from Nae Bernard led to a layup and free throw.
The final quarter saw the Spiders attempt a comeback. In points, they were led by Ryan and Grace Townsend. However, once Ryan fouled out of the game, it was all Duquesne, taking an upset victory 72-59 at the final buzzer.
The victory was Duquesne Head Coach Dan Burt’s 100th conference win. When asked about what this milestone meant to him, he put it bluntly while also choking up.
“That’s a nice milestone. I’m proud of it. There might be eight more people out of the hundreds that have coached, and it’s a huge honor,” he said. “That didn’t happen because of just me, that happened because of the coaching staff and – most importantly – the players that have played here and have been absolutely committed to our program.”
Amongst the headlines of beating the Spiders and the multiple 3-point plays, Hamilton quietly had one of the best games of her career, achieving 16 points on the night.
“I play every game like it’s my last – because any game could be my last,” she said. “I’m grateful to be healthy, but my teammates, the support from them and the coaching staff with my schedule for school have been so helpful.”
Ahead of their matchup against Loyola Chicago on Sunday, Jan. 28, Burt did not mince words regarding what to expect.
“We’ve found some consistency with our combinations, and that’s led to great success,” he said. “People still don’t believe in us, and that’s fine. I guess we’ll have to show them.”