Natalie Fiorilli | For The Duquesne Duke
The Duquesne women’s basketball team faced evenly matched rival Virginia Commonwealth University and made a statement by trouncing the Rams 83-47 Saturday afternoon at the Palumbo Center. With the win, the Dukes improved to 15-8 overall and 7-3 in the Atlantic-10 Conference.
Five Dukes tallied over 10 points each. Sophomore forward Amadea Szamosi finished as the leading scorer with 15 points in 33 minutes of play. Olivia Bresnahan, April Robinson, Deva’Nyar Workman and Emilie Gronas recorded 13 points respectively. Bresnahan totaled six assists and sank 9-of-10 free throws and Workman had nine rebounds. Szamosi’s effort was vital to the Dukes’ win, considering she recorded all 15 points in the first half.
“I was trying to go hard for every rebound,” Szamosi said. “I always say the team who rebounds better has a lot more chance to win the game. So I’m trying to go hard in the boards and show them in the first moment that I want to dominate them physically, so they don’t even have a chance there.”
VCU led the scoring race early in the first half with a 7-point run. Junior Belma Nurkic initiated scoring for the Dukes with a 3-pointer nearly two minutes into the game. The Dukes took the lead at 11:23 with a 3-pointer by Workman, pushing the score to 19-18. The Red & Blue then scored another 10 points before VCU could light up the board again. Duquesne held the lead for the remainder, and left the first half winning 39-25. Tight defense by VCU, as well as their 44.4 percent success in three-point shots allowed VCU to remain in the competition during the first half.
The Rams came out determined to shrink the deficit in the second half, with a 5-point run making the score 41-30, still trailing the Dukes. Bresnahan then went 4-of-4 from the free throw line in less than a minute of play. VCU had 5 turnovers and missed 13 shots, which allowed the Dukes to rip off a 25-1 run to take a 66-31 lead. Duquesne held its edge although VCU scored an additional 13 points in the last 10 minutes. Points from Workman, Bresnahan, Tanesha Sutton, Kyasia Duling and Brianna Thomas wrapped up the scoring for the Dukes in the final minutes.
With the win, the Dukes extended their home winning streak to eight, a program record. Essentials to the Dukes’ win included their 56 rebounds, this season’s conference high, and their season-low 7 turnovers. The Red & Blue also managed to shoot 19-of-22 in free throws and scored 36 points in the paint. Gronas found success in 3-pointers in the second half, knocking down three shots from beyond the arc.
“When we run our plays, [my teammates] do a great job of getting me open and I just try to spot up wherever there’s no defenders,” Gronas said. I try to just get open that’s kind of my main job. Get open for 3’s.”
Head Coach Dan Burt was pleased with his team’s performance, especially with their relentless effort against VCU’s vigorous defense.
“We knew when they pressed us, that we could get layups. And there was one point where we looked like the Lakers, according to my assistant coach Eddie Benton,” Burt said. “We looked like the Lakers because we were getting layup after layup after layup and we knew that could happen if they pressed us. We want people to press us because we’re going to attack you. Bring it on if you want to press us.”
The Dukes are currently tied for fourth place in the conference, with six games remaining before the A-10 Championships begin March 4.
“Right now the talent that we have at Duquesne University is playing very well together and you saw that tonight,” Burt said. “I’m feeling really good about my team. Not just based on the statistics or what happened out on the floor tonight but what happens in the locker room and what happens in practice.”
The Dukes began a two-game road trip against La Salle on Wednesday night. They beat the Explorers 72-66. The Red & Blue will play Massachusetts on the road on Saturday at 1 p.m. They will return to the Palumbo Center against Richmond on Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.