Duquesne women get no margin for error in A-10 Tournament
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Duquesne coach Dan Burt sat down after his team's final home game of the season last week a frustrated man.
The Dukes held an 11-point lead with 12 minutes remaining against La Salle but ended up with a 68-63 loss, and it wasn't the first time they went down in such fashion in recent weeks.
“The story of our season is what you saw in the last five minutes of that game, at least the second half of our season,” Burt said.
“And that is our inability to defend dribble penetration, our inability to make a shot during crunch time and our lack of toughness when someone drives the lane and not knocking them down or stepping in to take a charge. That, in a nutshell, has been our February.”
If it becomes their March, Duquesne's season will be over.
The Dukes have won twice in the past seven games and head into the Atlantic 10 Tournament as the No. 6 seed, facing No. 11 Rhode Island (7-22) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Richmond Coliseum.
Heading into February, Duquesne (18-11) was in the midst of a seven-game winning streak and in second place behind Dayton in the conference.
The Dukes led George Washington by seven points at halftime but allowed the Colonials to shoot 60 percent in the second half, and the 80-68 loss Feb. 5 snapped the Dukes' winning streak.
Duquesne was still in second place when it hosted Dayton on Feb. 8, but the Flyers led 45-37 at halftime and won by 10 points.
Then against St. Bonaventure, Duquesne led by 22 points early in the second half, but the Bonnies came back over the final 17:23 and won 63-62.
The Dukes converted only three of their final 13 possessions and were outrebounded 9-3 in the last eight minutes of the game.
The losing streak reached four when Saint Joseph's hit a last-second shot to win 61-59 on Feb. 18.
The players believe there's still time to turn it around during the conference tournament.
“It's a whole new start for us, and we can start off on a different foot than we're on right now,” senior guard Raegan Moore said. “Everyone goes in 0-0 on their record. Everyone's playing new.”
Last season Duquesne entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed but also was 22-6 at the time.
The Dukes lost to No. 4 Saint Joseph's in the quarterfinals and, after being passed over by the NCAA selection committee, appeared in the WNIT.
Burt said he knows there is no hope this year of earning a bid in the NCAA Tournament unless they win the conference tournament.
“That's the only way we're getting in,” he said. “We've blown our chance. Very simply, the road to the NCAA Tournament is through the conference tournament. We have to find some combinations that will allow us to win, especially in late-game situations but also because we are going to play four games in four days.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at email@example.com or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
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