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Offense is lacking for Duquesne women's basketball squad

| Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 11:00 p.m.

After jumping to a 15-4 lead in the first six minutes of its final nonconference game against Miami (Ohio) on Saturday, the situation quickly turned for the Duquesne women.

Miami caught up, then went ahead as Duquesne struggled through long stretches without a field goal. The Dukes scored just 20 points on 29 percent shooting in the second half of a 54-49 loss that left coach Suzie McConnell-Serio striving to understand her team's offensive woes.

“We've just struggled to shoot the basketball,” McConnell-Serio said. “We can't find answers. … It's just frustrating.”

Despite the Dukes' struggles, they enter the Atlantic 10 season at Xavier on Sunday tied for the second-best record in the conference at 11-3.

Two wins came against ranked teams, then-No. 17 Delaware on Nov. 14 and then-No. 20 West Virginia on Dec. 20. Delaware didn't have Elena Delle Donne, one of the top players in women's basketball, for the first game, and the Blue Hens beat the Dukes in the championship game of the Blue Sky Classic with Delle Donne playing on Dec. 30. But before Saturday, Duquesne's only other loss was against North Carolina, 62-58, currently ranked No. 11.

Compared to last season's nonconference results, Duquesne's scoring is down 11 points per game. In 2011-12, the Dukes averaged 71.6 points against nonconference opponents, including a loss to Cincinnati in the WNIT. Three players — Wumi Agunbiade, Alex Gensler and Orsi Szecsi — averaged double-figures in scoring.

Defense has been solid this year, and the Dukes are outscoring opponents by 9.9 points per game, but they are averaging just 60.0 points.

Agunbiade is the only player averaging double-figures, and her average has dropped from a team-leading 15.4 points per game in nonconference play to 12.6 this season.

Gensler graduated, and Szecsi's average is down from 11.3 points per game to 7.9 in nonconference play.

The losses to Delaware (45 points) and Miami (49 points) have been their two lowest-scoring games of the year.

Outside of a wrist injury that sophomore guard Belma Nurkic is playing through, McConnell-Serio said the team is healthy. It's just not scoring.

“Our magic number is 60; we have to score at least 60 points a game, and in our losses we're not doing it,” McConnell-Serio said. “We need more weapons. We need more contributions across the board, and we need to find answers.”

The consensus after the loss Saturday was that having a full week to concentrate on practice couldn't come at a better time.

“Everyone knows how important conference play is,” senior guard Jocelyn Floyd said. “I think the week we have off, we're going to come in focused and ready.”

Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at kprice@tribweb.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.

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