Duquesne rallies to down Akron, 71-66, in WNIT first round
College Football Videos
Vanessa Abel knows what it's like to have a basketball career come to an end.
She thought hers was over with Duquesne until the NCAA granted her a sixth year of eligibility in December 2012. With her team trailing in the second half of its first-round WNIT game against Akron, Abel was on the bench watching the minutes ticking down on more than just the season.
Then, with just under five minutes remaining and the Dukes down three, coach Suzie McConnell-Serio put Abel back in the game, and she took over.
The senior guard hit a mid-range jump shot and a 3-pointer, stole the ball at halfcourt, grabbed two rebounds and went 8 of 8 from the line to propel Duquesne to a 71-66 win at Palumbo Center. The Dukes (24-7) will play at Bowling Green on Saturday.
“It was great to see Vanessa take over and score the way she did because I had taken her out of the game when we were down by 11,” McConnell-Serio said. “She wasn't scoring and wasn't defending. When I took her out of the game, in my mind, it felt so bad that this was the way she could possibly end her career, on this type of game. I give her credit that she regrouped and had such an impact down the stretch.”
Abel finished with 16 points — all in the second half — eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Wumi Agunbiade led the way with 22 points and eight rebounds, and Jocelyn Floyd had 11 points and five steals.
This is Duquesne's fifth-straight WNIT appearance but just the second time the Dukes have advanced to the second round. They made it to the third round in 2011 before losing to Illinois State.
Disappointed by their NCAA snub, the players admitted it wasn't easy to get revved up for Akron. At times, they played like it.
They trailed, 37-31, at the half, and Akron's Taylor Ruper's consecutive 3-pointers just 23 seconds apart gave the Zips a 47-36 lead with 13:16 remaining in the game. That's when McConnell-Serio called a timeout.
Abel said that was when the realty of how the Dukes were about to end their season took hold.
“No one wants to go out like that, especially playing the way we were,” she said. “That had a lot to do with it, and we have something to prove.”
After Abel hit a pair of free throws to make it 67-62 with 45 seconds left, Hanna Luburgh hit a 3-pointer for Akron and hit free throw to pull within one. Kacie Cassell fouled Agunbiade with 26.4 seconds remaining, and Agunbiade made both shots.
Luburgh led Akron (23-10) with 19 points and nine rebounds.
The Dukes said they feel they have something to prove.
“(Coach) believes we can make it to the championship, and I think we do, too,” Floyd said. “I hope we do.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Icy roads cause accidents, slow traffic across Western Pa.
- Stakes high as ex-Saints receiver Moore faces his former team
- Steelers notebook: Injury to RT Gilbert opens door for Adams to start
- Penguins GM prepares for emotional series against Carolina
- Police identify driver in North Side crash that killed pregnant woman
- Pitt receiver Boyd continues to grow on and off the field
- Allegheny County Council wants to hike members’ $3K expense accounts
- Steelers’ backups Archer, Harris ready to run
- No federal funds to help enforce Pa. ban on texting by drivers
- Penguins notebook: Winning home games crucial for Penguins
- Food bank CEO hopeful of tax break for donors