Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke
The Duquesne women’s basketball team extended its winning streak to seven games on Wednesday night after coming from behind to beat Atlantic 10 rival Richmond in a thrilling 58-51 overtime victory at the Palumbo Center.
With the win, the Dukes improved to 18-8 overall and 10-3 in the Atlantic 10. They are 9-2 at the Palumbo Center this season.
From the opening tip, the Dukes had a tough time keeping pace with the Spiders, who led by as many as 13 points in the first half. Junior guard April Robinson was key in keeping her squad in the game with a team-high 10 first half points. As the seconds ticked off the clock in the first, the Dukes thankfully showed some signs of life. Senior guard Olivia Bresnahan brought the Dukes within nine after sinking a buzzer-beating layup to make the score 32-23 at the half.
At the start of the second half, the Dukes looked like a completely different team. More proficient passing and better awareness were factors in helping the team pull back to within just one point late in the half. Bresnahan was a big part of the Dukes’ late-game resurgence. Her 10 rebounds helped give the Dukes the possession they so desperately needed. But it wasn’t until the final minute of the game that Belma Nurkic gave the Dukes their first lead of the game.
The tide shifted again as the Spiders regained the lead, but with 20 seconds left and down by two, the Dukes regained possession. They carefully managed the clock, and sophomore Amadea Szamosi was able to find a lane to secure a key layup with less than two seconds to go in regulation to send the game into overtime.
Robinson, who tied the program’s all-time record for most 3-pointers made in a single season (75), enjoyed the emotion displayed on the bench in the closing seconds.
“After [Szamosi] made the shot, we’re like ‘we’re going to win this thing,’” Robinson said. “It kept our head in the game the whole time.”
When overtime rolled around, it was all Duquesne. The Spiders couldn’t seem to get back in the rhythm they flaunted earlier in the game and faltered under the pressure of extra time. The Dukes didn’t even let the opposition score a single point and, headed into the locker room victorious after the five-minute overtime.
Smiling after the game, coach Dan Burt stressed how proud he was of his team.
“The grit and the toughness we displayed tonight was in a sense, overwhelming to me from an emotional standpoint,” Burt said.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the kids that we have and the coaching staff also. I think Matt Schmidt, our offensive coordinator, had a great gameplan. I think we did a lot of good things defensively and that’s credit to Rachel Wojdowski and Eddie Benton also. Our program is defined on grittiness and toughness and I think we really defined that and let it come to fruition tonight.”
Bresnahan, who finished the night with six points and 14 rebounds, said there would have been no comeback if Burt didn’t give them a pep talk after their lackadaisical performance in the first half.
“He basically said it wasn’t our best half,” Bresnahan said. “We needed to clean it up. We were really sloppy. I think we had maybe 12 turnovers by halftime and normally we have less than 15 the entire game. That was really uncharacteristic of us. We weren’t playing Duquesne basketball.”
The Red & Blue will try to extend their winning streak to eight this Sunday afternoon when they face the University of Rhode Island Rams at the Palumbo Center. Following that, Duquesne will round out their regular season schedule first at Saint Joseph’s on Feb. 25, and then against St. Bonaventure on March 1 at the Palumbo Center.
The Atlantic 10 Championship will kick off on March 4 in Richmond. The Dukes are currently third in the conference standing