Women’s basketball falls to UCF in season opener

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne’s Tess Myers shoots during Tuesday night’s loss at UCF. Now in her second season with the Dukes, Myers put up a team-best 16 points and added an assist and a steal in her 34 minutes of action.

Grace Heidinger | Staff Writer

Nov. 11, 2021

The Duquesne women’s basketball team opened up its season in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday, falling to Central Florida at Addition Financial Arena, 68-39.

Despite playing with a shortened bench as a result of four regular players not traveling due to injury, the Dukes managed to stay competitive for much of the game. Tess Myers had a game-high-tying 16 points, while Megan McConnell scored four points and dished out five assists.

In the final 30 seconds of the first quarter, McConnell was quick to head down the court following a Knights turnover. On a driving layup, she gave the Dukes a three-point edge. UCF quickly responded with a triple from Ahna Burney, and the score was tied at 14 at the end of the first frame.

Just 10 seconds into the second quarter, Myers gave the Dukes a 17-14 lead with a 3-pointer, but the momentum was short-lived.

The Knights started to test the Dukes’ limits. UCF applied more pressure at both ends of the floor, making it difficult for the Dukes to capitalize on plays and add to their side of the scoreboard.

A 10-2 run gave the Knights a 24-19 lead with just under three minutes to play in the first half. Duquesne’s Precious Johnson hit a 3-pointer to trim UCF’s lead to 24-22 with just under two minutes left before halftime, and neither team was able to crack the scoreboard for the remainder of the half.

Libby Bazelak, who scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in the loss, said that the team’s effort was valiant, but it couldn’t be sustained for a full game.

“In the first half, we played well defensively and got to some rebounds, which helped us to get better looks on offense,” Bazelak said. “We stuck with them through the third quarter and just weren’t able to hang with their athleticism, size and depth.”

The Dukes opened the second-half scoring with an equalizer from Johnson, but struggled to keep up with the fast-paced Knights. UCF took control of the court and went on their second large run of the night, using a 17-3 run to push itself out to a commanding 41-29 lead with 1:47 to go in the third quarter.

“With our shortened bench, we weren’t able to run as much transition as we would’ve liked in the second half when our legs started to get a little more tired,” Bazelak said.

A Duquesne scoring drought and six turnovers allowed UCF to gain its biggest lead of the game to that point. Heading into the final quarter, the Dukes trailed by a 42-31 score.

The Knights continued to capitalize in the final 10 minutes of the game. The tired Dukes could not close the gap against UCF’s relentless defense.

A fourth quarter in which UCF outscored Duquesne by a 26-8 mark helped the Knights firmly secure a 29-point victory.

The Dukes shot 28.8% on the night, while the Knights were 37.9% from the field.

Behind 23 Duquesne turnovers, UCF scored 21 of its 68 points.

“We had some costly turnovers against their traps and press and UCF was able to capitalize and knock down their shots,” Bazelak said.

Missing four players called for more time on the court for the Dukes that were healthy and able to make the trip.

As the game progressed, the Dukes grew tired, which led to more opportunities for the Knights to steal the ball and swiftly head down the court.

The Dukes will be right back in action on Thursday, when they travel to Tulsa, Okla., to take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Reynolds Center.

With such a short time in between games, Bazelak knows that flipping the page as quickly as possible is key.

“We are going to do a lot of recovery, icing and resting tonight [Tuesday],” Bazelak said. “Tomorrow [Wednesday], we will be traveling, going over scout for Tulsa and practicing.”

The Dukes have not faced the Golden Hurricane since Dec. 30, 2000. Thursday will mark the third all-time meeting between Duquesne and Tulsa.

The Dukes will look to earn their first win of the season, while simultaneously earning what would be a third-consecutive victory over the Golden Hurricane.

Despite the loss, Bazelak knows that she and her teammates still have plenty of opportunities to grow throughout non-conference play

“We have to get better every game, which I thought we did today,” Bazelak said. “Now, we have to move on from this one and take it one game at a time from here on out.”

Following the road clash with Tulsa, Duquesne will come home to UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse to host Lafayette Sunday afternoon.