Women’s basketball drops another home contest

KEYED IN — Duquesne head coach Dan Burt crouches down next to two Dukes players that are waiting to substitute themselves into the game versus Fordham on Feb. 21. Burt has been increasingly critical of his star players as of late, encouraging his highest scorers to supplement their scoring prowess with defensive effort. — Edward Major II

By David Borne | Staff Writer

Feb. 22, 2018

With a chance to clinch the second seed in the rapidly approaching Atlantic 10 Championship tournament, the Duquesne women’s basketball team (22-6, 12-3 A-10) fell 51-43 to Fordham at the A.J. Palumbo Center on Wednesday night.

It was a game that started slowly scoring-wise for both sides, and neither really managed to find an offensive rhythm in the contest. The 43-point finish was a season low for Duquesne, with the previous total coming in a 69-50 loss against Saint Joseph’s on Feb. 10.

The 51 points from Fordham was its second-lowest scoring total in a win this season.

The Dukes came into the final quarter of play down 38-36, but couldn’t put anything together in the closing period. Duquesne shot just 2-16 from the field in the fourth quarter, and only took one trip to the free throw line in the final stanza.

Chassidy Omogrosso wrapped up the night with 19 points, leading Duquesne offensively. Behind her on the scoresheet were Kadri Ann-Lass with 11 and Julijana Vojinovic with just five. Fordham locked down the sharpshooting Vojinovic, as she was held to a 2-11 shooting performance with a 1-5 clip from 3-point land.

While the offensive woes were certainly disappointing, Burt was more put off by his team’s defensive effort.

“We have no ball pressure at all. We’re in real trouble if we can’t apply ball pressure,” Burt said. “I just said to the locker room, ‘If we can’t get ball pressure, we can’t win. We have to win with defense and rebounding in February and March.’”

LOCKED UP — Junior guard Julijana Vojinovic struggles to get to the basket against Fordham on Feb. 21. Vojinovic finished with five points on 2-11 shooting against the Rams (20-7, 12-3 A-10). — Edward Major II

Echoing his words following the loss to Saint Joseph’s earlier this month, Burt mentioned the possibility of increasing playing time for his younger guards, who can contribute more defensively.

“We beat a good Saint Louis team by sitting and guarding people, but we’re Jekyll and Hyde,” Burt said. “The blame goes to me because I have to dictate that you’re going to have ball pressure, you’re going to block out, and you’re going to move the ball faster instead of pounding it into the ground, or you’re going to come and sit.

“Maybe [Omogrosso] and [Vojinovic] play less minutes, and I have to go with Amanda Kalin and Libby [Bazelak]. Even Kiersten Elliott, who I know will sit down and guard. We may not be able to score, but I know they’ll sit and guard. Maybe there’s some minutes there that need to change,” Burt said.

Kalin saw just six minutes of action in the loss to Fordham. Bazelak played 18 minutes, grabbing eight rebounds in her limited time. Both were held scoreless.

Coming into the night, the Rams sat directly below Duquesne in the Atlantic 10 standings. With the road victory, Fordham (20-7, 12-3 A-10) now holds the tiebreaker over Duquesne and will clinch the tournament’s second seed with a win in its final game this season against Saint Joseph’s on Feb. 24.

As for the Dukes, on top of some help from Saint Joseph’s, they will need a win in their regular season finale at St. Bonaventure on Feb. 24 in order to clinch a bye in the first round of the tournament.

Dayton (22-4, 15-0 A-10) has already clinched the tournament’s highest seed for the second season in a row.

While a bye is valuable for any team, Burt mentioned that he is not going to stress over the idea of his team missing out on one of the top two seeds.

“I personally think it’s a hair overrated,” Burt said, regarding having a first-round bye. “I think we’ll be okay. But you want to win them all. You win them all, you get the bye, I’ll take the bye. If we win at Bonaventure and if Fordham wins and we end up in third, I’m not losing sleep over it.”

If Duquesne were to finish with the No. 3 seed, it would open up the first round of tournament at home on Feb. 27 against Rhode Island.

Wednesday’s loss was certainly a deflating loss for his team, but Burt acknowledged just how important it will be for his team to wake up tomorrow and move on.

If Duquesne were to grab its thirteenth win of the season on Saturday against St. Bonaventure, its record in conference play this season would tie the program record set by the 2015-16 team.

The Bonnies, who have just three conference wins this season, can not be overlooked. That proved to be all too true for Burt and his squad in their most recent trip to Olean, a game that saw the Bonnies upset Duquesne by a score of 69-56 on Jan. 21, 2017.

Saturday’s contest will also give Duquesne one last chance to make any necessary adjustments before it begins postseason play. One final game to return to sound defensive play, and to build some momentum before primetime begins on Feb. 27, presumably.

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