Women’s hoops expected to make NCAA tourney

Courtesy of the Athletic Department - Freshman forward Eniko Kuttor hugs senior guard April Robinson after defeating LaSalle in their penultimate matchup of the 2015-16 season. The Dukes will find out Monday if they have made the tourney.

Courtesy of the Athletic Department – Freshman forward Eniko Kuttor hugs senior guard April Robinson after defeating LaSalle in their penultimate matchup of the 2015-16 season. The Dukes will find out Monday if they have made the tourney.

By Natalie Fiorilli | The Duquesne Duke

Michigan State, Florida State, Louisville and BYU – a list of teams in which the Duquesne women’s basketball team is ranked amongst in the NCAA rating percentage index, which is a very important factor in determining where a school gets seeded in the tournament.

Duquesne, with an RPI of 18, is currently contending with power-five conference teams to earn its first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament, and despite its loss in the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship, expect Duquesne’s name to be called on Selection Monday.

“We are going to class, enjoying the sunshine and taking a few days to be fans of basketball in March,” Coach Dan Burt said. “We will get back to work in the weight room and on the court shortly as we lock in on playing in March Madness. I am confident that we will be ready to practice later this week.”

Last season, the Dukes had an RPI of 46 and were expecting a bid to the tournament, finishing the season at a record of 23-11 overall while going 12-4 in conference play. In just one year, Duquesne improved to 27-5, with an A-10 record of 13-3.

Although the Red & Blue received a third seed in the A-10 Tournament for the second consecutive season, the team held the regular season title, tying with Saint Louis and George Washington for first in the conference.

Duquesne made history this season by making it to the A-10 Tournament final and are convinced the season is not over yet, according to starting senior guard April Robinson.

“We have taken the past few days off, which has been good to get our minds away from basketball and let our bodies recover,” Robinson said. “My mentality is to just refocus and work on my game to prepare for the tournament. I have 40 guaranteed minutes left in my college career and I will do whatever necessary to extend that.”

Earlier this season the Dukes topped a No. 25 team in St. John’s by a 19-point margin. Duquesne went on a program best 15-game winning streak and was ranked in the USA Today/Coaches Top 25 Poll for the first time. The current senior class also became the all-time winningest senior class in team history.

The squad, which consists of eight new players this season, has shown promise in even its freshmen, especially in guard Chassidy Omogrosso and forward Kadri-Ann Lass.

Lass was named to the 2016 All-Tournament Team at the conclusion of the A-10 Tournament, while Omogrosso had the second-most three-pointers made for the Dukes behind Robinson with 55 total.

Even though being a freshman leader came as a surprise for Lass, she has enjoyed being a contributor.

“I didn’t think I was ready for it, but I’m really happy to help this amazing team,” Lass said. “Hopefully we get to the big dance, and if so, we’re not stopping here. Why settle for something? Always be hungry for more.”

Regardless of the team’s fate in post-season play this year, the program will continue to grow, even after Robinson and her fellow senior stars graduate. This a big stepping stone for the organization and it looks as if they’ll be making the tourney for years to come.

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