Duquesne suffers home setback against Fordham

Pittsburgh, PA — Nearly two weeks ago, Duquesne women’s basketball coach Dan Burt was frustrated with his team and he told reporters that the next week would be very telling for the rest of the season.

Wednesday, Burt had a lengthy opening statement which repeated many of these concerns in a 51-43 setback to Fordham at the Palumbo Center.

“There is a reason why Stephanie Gaitley has won over 600 games in her career, she completely outcoached me and our staff,” Burt said. “Fordham is the best coached team in this league. Fordham simply wanted this game more than us. They blocked us out so well and we couldn’t get an offensive board. We’re in real trouble if we can’t apply ball pressure. The buck stops with me. I said to the locker room ‘if we can’t have ball pressure, we can’t win’.

“Maybe Chas (Omogrosso) and Juca (Vojinovic) play less minutes and we put in people that will sit and guard. In the post, we had missed assignments and it was multiple people. We really struggled to score so we had to get more things in transition. We threw everything at them. We played zone, we played man and switched things but at the end of the day, when you don’t have ball pressure, it doesn’t make a difference.”

Since that Saint Joseph’s press conference, Duquesne won a challenging road game against Saint Louis but back at home against Rhode Island reverted back to inconsistent guarding on defense.

“We’re Jekyll and Hyde,” said Burt. “We beat a good Saint Louis team by sitting down and guarding people. The blame goes to me. I keep saying to myself that someone will get it because I have such faith but I need to have a little less faith and go a bit deeper with our guards because defense and rebounding is going to win you games in February and March.”

Duquesne lost this game despite G’mrice Davis who now has 23 double-doubles this season going down with an injury, Mary Goulding also going down with injury, Lauren Holden, its steady guard picking up her third foul in the second quarter and freshman guard Bre Cavanaugh having an off shooting night. Though Davis and Goulding returned to the game, neither were at full strength.

“That tells you about the intangibles of defense and blocking out in February and March and that’s what they did,” Burt said. “We couldn’t make a mid-range jumper, we did not shoot the ball well. Frankly as coaches we should have pounded the ball more into the paint and gone at Davis, especially with her injury. We tried to do that but we settled for jumpers. We were 2-for-16 in the fourth quarter.”

The game had a degree of importance to it since a Duquesne win would have locked it into the second seed and automatically earned a quarterfinals berth in Richmond. This is still quite possible though Duquesne will need help.

Fordham now leapfrogs Duquesne for the second seed, which can be secured with a win Saturday against Saint Joseph’s or a Duquesne setback at St. Bonaventure.

Currently, Duquesne would be playing in a first round game Tuesday against Rhode Island and if that were to be a win, the Dukes would face either Saint Joseph’s or VCU in a quarterfinal match.

Burt for his part seems to care little as to how the seeding falls as Duquesne can fall no lower than third, meaning a potential meeting with Dayton would not occur until the finals. He sees both sides of playing the extra game versus having a bye.”

“We have the depth to play four games in a week, but we’ll what happens Saturday,” he said. “We’ve got to go to Bonaventure and we struggle there to find a victory. They will pick us apart offensively if we can’t apply ball pressure. We want to get to that 13th win to tie the school record for best A-10 season. I can go both ways, sure it’s nice to be the second seed and get that day off Tuesday, but there’s also something to be said about having some rhythm and playing Tuesday and then going down on Wednesday. I think it’s a hair overrated but you want to win them all. If we end up third, I won’t lose sleep on it, it just means we have to play a home game Tuesday.”

Last year a loss such as this would have been attributed more to tiredness and though that was not the case Wednesday, there was something else which concerned Burt from this game which had an air of familiarity to it.

“Today was the first day where I saw a little bit of last year where we were questioning each other’s shots a little bit and things that we did,” said Burt. “We haven’t seen that all year and we hope it’s a one-time thing. It’s been addressed and probably will be addressed one more time. When you’re in an emotional state and things aren’t going your way, you will have moments like that. We have to move forward. We’ll be pretty miserable beyond midnight today, but tomorrow afternoon we have to be ready to play and know what Bonaventure is doing.”

In some wins and each of the losses, Burt has admitted to being outcoached with Wednesday being no different and he admits he will reflect on it and then it will be back to preparing for St. Bonaventure.

“I’m going to take a deep breath, get something to eat and forget about it as much as I can for an hour or two and then I’ll start to revisit it,” he said. “To me, I wish we would have pressed them but we couldn’t make shots. I would have gone with our guards who created ball pressure and I am at that point now where you have to create ball pressure or you’re going to sit down. I almost wish I hadn’t called the two timeouts to advance the ball and just let us play through that. I by no means was great either.”

Fordham goes back to basics

Tuesday night Fordham met as a team and collectively wrote its thoughts down and looked in the mirror after a setback at Dayton with the understanding that it had to quickly turn the page.

“It definitely brought out the things we do and need to keep doing,” Fordham junior guard Lauren Holden said. “Everyone really took what everyone wrote down and applied it to today. I think everyone will apply that moving forward. In order to be a successful team, everyone has to do the little things that they do well.”

Fordham’s win Wednesday night came with its trademark defense which held Duquesne to a 33.3% clip from the field and a 2-for-16 output in the fourth quarter.

“I saw what Duquesne did after they lost to Saint Joe’s and they went to Saint Louis and had a great win there and I feel that was the way we felt after losing to Dayton,” Fordham coach Stephanie Gaitley said. “We just felt like we had a lot to prove. We didn’t play great defense, we didn’t shoot the ball well and we knew we were playing a really good opponent tonight. We knew it would start with our defense. I give the kids a lot of credit, we had two of our major players go down and they fought back, everybody stepped up in a big way.”

Just 45 seconds into the game, Mary Goulding went down with an injury and walked off under her own power with assistance from trainer Justine Stevenson. Four minutes later Goulding was able to return to action though she was held to one points and two rebounds while playing 36 minutes.

With 7:46 remaining in the first half, both Duquesne and Fordham had bodies on the floor going for a loose ball and in the process, Davis went down with an injury and was in tears.

With Stevenson holding one shoulder and associate coach Angelika Szumilo the other, Davis was escorted back to the bench. She returned to the game a few minutes later for a short spurt but after making a basket was subbed back out returning to the bench in tears.

Davis did join her team for shootaround showing the slightest of limps but being a mainstay on the court in that second half. She finished with 20 points and 19 rebounds.

“Every time her freshman year she went down it was always theatrical, you never knew when she was hurt,” said Gaitley. “She hasn’t done that the last two years, so when she went down, I knew she was hurt. I’m so proud that she was able to play through that pain and prove to herself that she could play through that.”

Additionally, Holden who has been a clear leader of this Fordham team picked up her third foul in the second quarter and went to the bench. Despite, this Duquesne never led at any point during this stretch, though it lead for 1:03 of the first quarter.

“We were calling on freshmen to step up in big moments and I just made sure that when G went down I brought the huddle in and said ‘next man up, this is what we’ve done all year’,” Gaitley said.

Despite all of the above factors, Holden was proud that her team found a way to pull through and earn an important win.

“I thought we stayed together,” she said. “We’ve been doing that at practice and it starts with practice. Today we just came out and worked together.”

Now if Fordham can beat a healthy Saint Joseph’s team on Saturday, it will earn a first round bye in the Atlantic 10 Championships and rest some bumps and bruises.

It has been a season of growth both in play and confidence but already Fordham has shown a lot to teams and that it will be a tough out whether that is at Rose Hill Gym or the Richmond Coliseum.

“We played the toughest out of conference schedule I’ve had to play as a coach,” said Gaitley. “When we made that schedule we did so with Kate Kreslina and Anna Kelly coming back. Then Mary (Goulding) and Asnate (Fomina) got injured. These kids have bought in and that defense will win us games. If we shoot well we can steal a game but if we don’t shoot well as long as we play defense, we’ll be around.”

Around the Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Finals

VCU 88 Saint Louis 84 OT– Leading by 10 down the stretch in the fourth quarter, VCU squandered its lead but regained composure to come through with an overtime win, arguably its biggest victory of the season. Freshman Tera Reed scored 24 points, her fourth game with at least 20 points scored.

From a Saint Louis perspective, its coach Lisa Stone was not pleased with this latest setback.

Davidson 58 La Salle 51– Davidson ended a four-game losing streak with this road victory. Despite a nearly six-minute cold streak in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats made plays down the stretch to secure this win. Freshman Katie Turner led Davidson with 18 points and senior Mackenzie Latt added 16 points of her own to go with 10 rebounds.

St. Bonaventure 77 Rhode Island 72– After scoring 22 points at halftime, St. Bonaventure went on a second half tear to earn a key road victory. Mariah Ruff scored 18 of her 20 points in the second half and Bona overcame a 12 point second-half deficit.

Dayton 71 George Mason 66– Dayton enters its Atlantic 10 regular season finale on a 16 game winning streak following a back-and-forth win against George Mason. Dayton will automatically play in the quarterfinals in Richmond. Lauren Cannatelli scored a Dayton high 20 points while JaVonna Layfield recorded 14 points and 18 rebounds. George Mason’s Nicole Cardaño-Hillary led all scorers with 24 points. Additionally Natalie Butler recorded her 28th double-double of the season with 16 points and 24 rebounds. Butler also broke the Atlantic 10 record for most rebounds in a single season.

UMass 58 Richmond 49– UMass senior Leah McDerment scored 13 points as UMass earned its fourth road win of the season. Sophomore Hailey Leidel set a UMass single season record for made three-point field goals in this game and finished with 12 points. This win ends what had been 14 consecutive Richmond victories in the series between these two teams.

Here is an updated look at the standings. If things hold after play Saturday, Fordham would jump up to second place in the standings having beaten Duquesne and George Washington would leapfrog George Mason having won both meetings between the two teams. If Davidson wins its home game against VCU and Richmond loses at George Washington come Saturday, then Davidson would host Richmond in the first round of A-10’s.

As proven last year, hosting a first round Atlantic 10 Championship game is important as each home team won its first round game. Last year was the first under this new conference tournament hosting procedure.

TEAM A-10 Overall
Dayton 15 – 0 22 – 4
Duquesne 12 – 3 22 – 6
Fordham 12 – 3 21 – 7
George Mason 10 – 5 21 – 8
George Washington 10 – 5 15 – 12
Saint Joseph’s 9 – 6 14 – 13
Saint Louis 8 – 7 14 – 14
Richmond 7 – 8 12 – 16
Davidson 6 – 9 11 – 17
Massachusetts 5 – 10 13 – 15
VCU 4 – 11 7 – 20
La Salle 3 – 12 8 – 20
St. Bonaventure 3 – 12 8 – 20
Rhode Island 1 – 14 3 – 25


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