Women’s basketball falls to Pitt in City Game

Brentaro Yamane | Staff Writer | Players from both teams prepare for the opening tip during Saturday's City Game between Duquesne and Pitt at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

Brentaro Yamane | Staff Writer

Nov. 23, 2021

Tradition can contribute a sense of comfort and belonging, while also reinforcing values such as freedom, faith, integrity, a good education, responsibility and a good work ethic.

Excluding the 2020-21 season that was impacted by Covid-19, the women’s basketball programs from Duquesne and Pitt have continued the tradition of meeting on the court in every season since 1983-84.

Another chapter of the rivalry was written on Saturday night, when Pitt defeated Duquesne, 69-64, at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

Prior to Saturday’s contest, the Dukes had won nine of the last 11 head-to-head meetings with the Panthers.

Duquesne held a 23-19 lead at the end of the opening quarter. At the 9:03 mark of the second quarter, Amaya Hamilton scored a layup in the paint to extend the Dukes’ lead to 27-19, which would turn out to be the team’s largest advantage of the game.

At that point, it looked like Duquesne was once again going to find a way to beat its rival, but that was not the case.

Duquesne Head Coach Dan Burt knew there were chances in the game in which his team had a chance to bury the Panthers, but the team had a handful of costly missed opportunities down the stretch.

“After having a 27-20 lead, we had momentum,” Burt said. “Pitt committed a technical foul and we missed both shots and we came up empty in the next two positions after that. Those were opportunities to extend the lead to double digits, and we couldn’t capitalize.”

By halftime, the score was tied at 35. Fatou Pouye recorded 15 first-half points for the Dukes. Pouye was limited to just one made basket in the second half, ultimately finishing the night with 17 points (making seven of her 11 field-goal attempts).

Teammate Libby Bazelak believes that the team could have even done a better job getting her the ball.

“We got to get her [Pouye] the ball more, especially in transition,” Bazelak said. “She runs out well, and when she is in the paint, those girls on the other teams that may be taller than her, but she’s strong and she can finish [to the basket],” Bazelak said.

At the end of the third quarter, the Dukes had a 50-48 lead. However, the Panthers started the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to quickly shift the momentum.

Burt believed that to be a key contributor as to why his team dropped the game.

“[Head] Coach Lance White from Pitt did a great job putting a couple of his players in positions where we had to guard them one-on-one and that got them looks at the basket in which got to they were able to hit some shots,” Burt said. “That 8-0 start to the fourth quarter when they were aggressors was the difference in the game.”

Foul trouble was another factor that came back to cost Duquesne. In the second half, the Panthers shot 22 free throws, while the Dukes got to the line just five times.

Despite the loss, Bazelak is confident that her team designed up the plays well, and it was simply a lack of finishing that ended up hurting the team.

“We executed our plays very well tonight, as I know those are things that are not always seen from the stands. Continuing to execute is what is going to take us in the right direction,” Bazelak said. “I think we were fine until the very end of the game when we had a few costly turnovers.

“I think we really haven’t been in that situation very much yet. We’ll definitely learn from this in practice and get more experience in those end of game situations.”

Even though Duquesne converted on six of 16 attempts from behind the 3-point line in the first half, the consistency was not maintained. The Dukes made just four of their 18 attempts from deep in the second half.

“We were not able to get inside the paint much,” Bazelak said, “They [the Pitt Panthers] were letting us shoot and giving us a pull-up jumper. We were not knocking down as many shots as we would have liked, and we need to get better at getting those paint touches.”

With the loss, Duquesne is 1-4 and will return to action at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse on Tuesday against Akron. While the team is now focusing on the Zips, the game against Pitt is one that they can think about and use as a building block moving forward.

“That was a great game for women’s basketball in the city of Pittsburgh,” Burt said. “Unfortunately, this year we came a little bit short. Will it stick with me? You better believe it will. And it should stick with our players for the remainder of the year. But with that being said, I like our team very much. I like our players, our talent level.

“We were not going to be finished a product in November and we’re not going to be in December. They are really good people, students and they are incredible representations for this university. They are young women you want to be around every day, and they will continue to work hard.”