Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke
The Duquesne women’s basketball squad hit a minor road bump in the early portion of conference play this season, starting 1-2 in their first three Atlantic 10 matchups. To get back on track, the Red & Blue scored two big home wins on Thursday and Sunday against the Saint Louis Billikens and the Saint Joseph’s Hawks, respectively. With the pair of wins, the Dukes improved to 3-2 in the A-10 and 11-7 overall.
On Thursday, in what head coach Dan Burt called “a tale of two halves,” the women’s team rattled Saint Louis in the first half scoring 39 points to the Billikens’ 18. In the second, however, the Billikens were able to mount a serious comeback outscoring the Dukes 48-38. The Dukes were able to hold off the St. Louis threat and pulled away with a 77-64 victory. Despite the happy ending, Burt wasn’t too thrilled with the way his team closed out the game.
“As well as we played in the first half, we played without emotion and great effort in the second half,” Burt said. “There are positives we can look at. (Jose-Ann Johnson) had a double-double, (April Robinson) had nine assists and (Emilie Gronas) was bombing from three-point range. But we have to defend at the three-point line better and make free throws at a higher percentage and if we don’t do that, we won’t be relevant in February.”
Five Dukes scored in double figures. Senior forward Jose-Ann Johnson was arguably the biggest performer of the night after she tallied her second-career double-double and notched a season-high 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Junior guards April Robinson, Emilie Gronas, Deva’Nyar Workman and senior guard Olivia Bresnahan all scored over 10 points.
Burt found himself more pleased after the next go-around three days later against Saint Joseph’s, which was nationally broadcasted on CBS Sports Network on Sunday afternoon.
The Dukes dominated the Hawks from the get go, holding them scoreless for the first six minutes of the game. By the end of the first half, Duquesne was beating Saint Joe’s 26-13.
In the second half, the troubles from Thursday’s game against Saint Louis resurfaced. The Hawks went on an 18-7 run to make the score 51-44 with less than three minutes remaining in the game. However, Duquesne knocked down 7-of-8 free throws in the last minute to close out the game 63-54. This was the first time since 2009 that the Dukes were able to defeat the Redhawks.
Robinson, who scored 12 points, said the team had to stay composed in order to deny a threat of a second half meltdown.
“[We needed to] just stay focused and keep our composure,” Robinson said. “The coaches still wanted us to push the ball in transition and get a shot at least every single time down and I think we accomplished that and we didn’t shoot very well today, but everyone rebounded the ball and got a lot of second chances.”
According to sophomore forward Amadea Szamosi, rebounding was key to the team’s ability to pull out the win on Sunday. The box score agrees. The Dukes were able to grab a program record 31 offensive rebounds, in addition to 24 boards on the defensive end.
“(Rebounding) was one of the first things that we were focusing on,” Szamosi said. “We said if we can get to the boards, we can win the game, so since I’m on the post, I know that I have to rebound as hard as I can.”
Szamosi contributed heavily in both the rebounds and points columns, recording a double-double with 11 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
“I think we saw a coming out party for Amadea Szamosi in terms of her being more aggressive and physical,” Burt said. “I though she rebounded very effectively for us.”
Looking ahead, the Dukes will head to the nation’s capital for a game against the George Washington Colonials Wednesday night, and will be back in the Steel City on Saturday to face the Davidson College Wildcats at 1 p.m. at the Palumbo Center.