Duquesne Dukes Best Pitt Panthers In City Game


Duquesne Dukes freshman guard Deva’Nyar Workman finishes a basket despite being fouled by Pitt sophomore guard Chelsea Welch. Duquesne won this game by an 87-77 score. Photo courtesy: Duquesne Athletics

Pitt Panthers senior guard Brianna Kiesel needed a few moments to gather her thoughts following an 87-77 loss to the Duquesne Dukes in the 33rd annual City Game.

“It’s a tough one, it is definitely a tough loss,” Kiesel said. “I definitely wanted this one to break even, and I wanted this for coach most. I feel like I take this loss because I didn’t pull through for coach like I was supposed to.”

At the game’s conclusion, the Duquesne Dukes women’s basketball team was grinning ear to ear.

Still don’t think this game is a special one?

Dukes junior guard April Robinson tried to convince the media in attendance with a “technically yes” response to a question, however senior guard Belma Nurkic responded otherwise.

“I think it means a little more than a normal game because of everything that has happened, especially with us being here when she [coach Suzie McConnell-Serio] was here,” said Nurkic.

The victory avenges a 67-57 loss from last season, which was Burt’s first time facing McConnell-Serio as head coach of the Dukes.

“It’s another win really, that’s the truth,” Burt said. “It’s Pitt, sure I like beating Pitt, I like beating anybody I can, but I don’t put any extra emotion into it, even if though it is Suzie and people I’ve worked with for a very long time. It really was about the players that were on the floor though and they won the basketball game.”

This was McConnell-Serio’s first time in six years coming away on the losing end of this city rivalry.

“We’re a team that needs a balanced attack,” said McConnell-Serio. I don’t think we got the touches on the block we needed. We dug ourselves a hole coming out of the locker room from the beginning [of the second half].

Freshman guard Deva’Nyar Workman led Duquesne [5-3] with 21 points in 28 minutes off the bench. Robinson had a double-double with 19 points and a career high 11 assists while also grabbing six rebounds. Also scoring in double digits was sophomore forward Amadea Szamosi for a third straight game with 15 points, and senior center Jose-Ann Johnson who scored 12 points, reaching double digits for the sixth time in seven games and grabbed seven rebounds.

“I just try to go hard every day,” Johnson said of her consistency of late. “Coach Eddie [Benton] always says if you’re going to go hard and mess up mess up hard. I just try to go hard and put my team in the best position to win.”

Pitt’s [5-3] Kiesel led all scorers with 23 points. All but eight of those points came in the second half with the Dukes holding onto a double digit lead and the Panthers trying to come come. Freshman forward Yacine Diop added 22 points on 10-13 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds. Graduate student forward Monica Wignot also had a double-double with 14 points and 10 points. Wignot was held to five points and three rebounds in the second half.

The first half featured six ties and lead changes. Duquesne led the contest 10-6, an advantage that included Szamosi’s first three point basket of the season. Quickly though the Panthers responded with a 5-0 run which included a made three point shot by sophomore guard Fred Potvin. Again though Duquesne would respond this time with six points to retake the lead but a minute later the score was tied. Pitt would take control with a 29-26 lead at the 5:41 mark, the Dukes went on a 9-0 run.

Pitt would cut the deficit to one before the half but a bad in-bounds pass by Kiesel allowed Workman to convert a lay-up for a 37-34 halftime lead.

Duquesne opened the second half with a 9-0 run which stretched the lead to 46-34 just over two minutes into the second half.

“We have this thing where at the beginning of the game we say we’re 10 points better than whatever team we’re playing, and at halftime, we say we’re down 10 points so we have the momentum we need to start scoring,” said Johnson.

The Dukes advantage extended with 9:44 remaining in regulation when freshman guard Emilie Gronas made her second three point shot of the game. Pitt was undeterred and tried to make one final run. Behind Kiesel the Panhers cut the Duquesne lead to 72-65 however Robinson converted a three pointer to put the lead back to double digits. Pitt would never get closer than eight points after that.

Duquesne shot 61.1 percent from three point range for the game converting 11 triples and also shooting 61.5 percent from the field in the second half.

“That’s how we have success it’s by attacking people offensively,” Burt said. “When you start two point guards as good as April Robinson and Olivia Bresnahan and surround them with shooters in Belma Nurkic, Dev Workman and Emile Gronas it just opens up so much and we go from being a team that has to run a lot of sets to a team that when we can run our motion we can be very dangerous. Our motion is by no means perfected but if you’re going to press us, bring it on.”

Kiesel who Burt referred to as an outstanding player and future WNBA player was emotional following the loss but when she tried to pin the defeat on herself, McConnell-Serio came to her defense.

“This game was about us and where we are and where we want to be as a team,” said McConnell-Serio. “We win as a team and lose as a team and no one person ever has sole responsibility for a win or a loss.”

Pitt will have a week off as it prepares for final exam week and then will host Drexel Sunday at 2 p.m.

Following some Iron City on his couch, Burt stated he will be back in coaching mode with an early morning practice Monday in preparation for a Wednesday night road game against a nationally ranked West Virginia team.