Head Coach Suzie McConnell-Serio answers a question following a win earlier in the season against Pittsburgh. Photo came from the Duquesne Athletics twitter page.

Free throw line costs Dukes

The Duquesne Dukes women’s basketball team fought tooth and nail for 45 minutes but ultimately were unable to defeat the Saint Joseph’s Hawks losing 69-68 in overtime.

The main issue for the team was the free throw line where Duquesne went 13-27 a 48.1% clip, something definitely noticed by Head Coach Suzie McConnell-Serio.

“I’m not going to lie, this one hurts,” McConnell-Serio said. “The only stat I really cared about was seeing the free throw line. They know we’re the worst free throw shooting team in the conference, our players are aware of it. The game was lost on the free throw line. We had so many chances. This was a golden opportunity and we let it slip away.”

The Dukes were able to get off to a quick start when 90 seconds into the game Wumi Agunbiade made a two while she was fouled and when the free throw was converted it was a 5-1 lead for the home team.

Jocelyn Floyd had steal after steal and converted several lay-ups en route to an 18 point, seven steal performance and with the score 11-4 she already had three lay-ins.

Saint Joseph’s would keep it close though and were led by senior forward Chatil Van Grinsven who would finish with 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Oditte Odisho came off the bench for the Dukes and made a three with 6:25 left in the first half and it appeared that Duquesne had the momentum once again. It ended up being the last Dukes lead for a good while.

The Hawks got another lead when Erin Shields made a three and with just under a minute left it extended the lead to 33-23. It was 35-25 at halftime.

Duquesne was still searching for answers and McConnell-Serio called a timeout down 39-25 early in the second half.

“We became stagnant,” McConnell-Serio said. “We run sets and motions and once we didn’t have scoring opportunities we became stagnant. People held on to the ball too long and we became dribble happy. We’re better when we can move the basketball.”

With 14:42 history was made when the officials decided to do a video review of a play. It was the first ever review in a Duquesne women’s game. Ultimately two technical fouls were called and a separate foul was called as well. The decision took eight minutes to make and served as a really long timeout. This was a perfect time for McConnell-Serio to gather her team and get their heads back in the game.

Orsi Szecsi would make three shots from long range in the half tht helped cut the lead, still free throws held them back from a potential lead.

It was a bittersweet moment when Vanessa Abel made a three with 3:17 to play in regulation as Szecsi went down in pain as a timeout was called. Later she had protection wrapped around her shoulder, which McConnell-Serio said was popped back into place. This is the second shoulder injury on the season for Szecsi.

“I expect not to have her for a while,” McConnell-Serio said.

The score was tied when Floyd had another steal. Agunbiade then split free throws to give the Dukes a 53-52 lead, but less than 30 seconds she fouled out of the game.

A controversial call by the officials turned into a potential four point swing when with 1:38 to play, a shot was taken to beat the shot clock and appeared to potentially have nicked the rim. The Dukes played on and got a foul but despite that there was an overrule and a shot clock violation was called. On the other end, St. Joseph’s scored a two.

At the end of regulation it was tied up at 56 and overtime was needed.

It looked as though April Robinson making four free throws for the Dukes would set them apart, but they could not get defensive stops. Van Grinsven had two backdoor passes to beat the Duquesne defense and keep their team down a basket.

With the score 66-64 Duquesne, Shields took a wide open three that she converted to give her team the lead. Ahjah Hall would respond with a lay-up and the Dukes were up one again.

Van Grinsven was fouled with 17.1 left in the overtime period and calmly sank both despite being iced by a Duquesne timeout.

In the closing seconds Duquesne called another timeout and drew up a play. They had multiple opportunities due to a batted and tipped ball, but Robinson missed a shot as the buzzer sounded.

“We just had to pick our heads up,” Jocelyn Floyd said. “We made a great comeback in the second half but we just couldn’t finish or make free throws. On to the next game.”

Duquesne now suffers just their second home loss of the season and are now 11-2 at the A.J. Palumbo Center. In addition, the team is now 19-5 overall and 8-2 in the Atlantic 10. Saint Joseph’s is now 17-6 but ahead of the Dukes with an 8-1 conference record.

Duquesne next plays on the road at Dayton.

Tags: Duquesne Dukes Basketball

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