Despite a two-game losing streak, a new season began for the Duquesne women’s basketball team, as Atlantic 10 conference play got going Wednesday.
Against St. Bonaventure, the Dukes came away with a 73-65 win at the Palumbo Center in front of a national TV audience on CBS Sports Network.
“It’s unusual for us here at Duquesne to have a two-game losing streak,” Burt said. “We’re not used to losing games in a row like that. It was a tough week even though it was the holidays.”
“It’s great to bounce back, we’ve been waiting for a win,” Wumi Agunbiade said. “Of course we’re a little bit bummed about the last two, but we’ve started a new season and a blank page. We’re off to a good start.”
Agunbiade and Raegan Moore each led Duquesne with 16 points, while teammate Amadea Szamosi had a career high 10 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Katie Healy led the Bonnies with 23 points.
Up 10-9 in the first half, Duquesne went on a 20-1 run. Szamosi was a huge part of that run. With the score 14-10 Dukes, Szamosi blocked a jumper, grabbed the rebound and then was fouled. The bench erupted at the sequence.
“It was nice to see her do well,” Agunbiade said. “In practice, she goes pretty hard so it was nice to see her show that today.”
Szamosi came in the game after Agunbiade and Stasia King each picked up two fouls. Jose-Ann Johnson was out due to injury. Szamosi had a six-point run of her own and, outside of a traveling violation, gave the Bonnies fits by putting back missed shots.
During the run, Burt decided to put his three freshman, Szamosi, Angela Heintz and Kyasia Duling in the game at the same time.
“There’s a part of me that feels that I should have given minutes to our freshmen in that last game to maybe spark us,” Burt said. “We did have a spark with our three freshmen in the game. When I had them in the game I think our assistant coaches were ready to have a heart attack, you don’t normally put three freshmen in at that point.”
The move worked out and the Dukes had a 30-10 lead with 6:44 to play in the first half. At the half, Duquesne led 40-21.
“We’ve been pushing to play a hard 40 minutes,” Olivia Bresnahan said. “We played the first 20 really well and got a good lead.”
The start of the second half went St. Bonaventure’s way as it went on a 13-0 run. With 12:19 to play the lead was trimmed down to 44-40 thanks to a Nyla Rueter 3-point shot. The Dukes quickly responded putting the lead back up to 11, less than two minutes later, with a technical foul resulting in the final two points of the run.
The Bonnies would respond again cutting the lead to four points with 8:15 to play. The game became a back-and-forth affair with the Dukes leading by eight, but the Bonnies continued to chip away bringing the game to 64-62 with 1:49 to play.
Duquesne called a play for Agunbiade and she delivered a jumper despite being fouled. The three-point play which followed by another Agunbiade basket built the lead back up to seven.
“We felt that we could get any shot we wanted in the post, especially late in the game with the way they were defending us,” Burt said. “We ran a flex screen to get Wumi open on the right block, and she settled for a jumper the first time, but the next time, she attacked the basket. There’s a reason why Wumi’s arguably the best player in our league and she proved that tonight, with taking the team on her back the last couple of minutes.”
Moore sealed the game with two free throws. She was 9 for 10 from the free throw line.
“I think [the run] caught us off guard at first, but we regained composure and we knew in the back of our minds that we came to win this game and deserved to win this game,” Moore said.
When the buzzer sounded, Duquesne came away with its ninth win of the season despite what Burt said was a “punch in the face” to open the second half. The team will next play its next game at home against VCU at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Of note: Agunbiade passed Alex Gensler for fourth most points scored ever with the Dukes…Szecsi is three points away from 1,000 in her career…Duquesne made 30 free throws which is a season high.