Pittsburgh, PA — When the Duquesne women’s basketball team made its run two years ago which culminated with the first NCAA berth in team history, often the locker room was a quiet place after games, even if a win proved to be the end result.
Saturday afternoon this proved to be the case again and coach Dan Burt was quick to open with that in his postgame remarks.
“We’re not really pleased with how we played today,” he said. “The kids and staff felt like we didn’t measure up to what we wanted to do.”
Duquesne did beat Central Connecticut 83-58 Saturday afternoon, though much of the above certainly would betray that truth.
Duquesne has now extended its season-best winning streak to five games and did so in a true team effort as everyone scored the 27 assists were recorded on 31 made field goals, including the first 13 from the field.
The clean assist total also was opposed by 11 turnovers, a decrease of 10 from Thursday night’s win against Saint Francis.
“When we share the ball, we can be really good,” guard Chassidy Omogrosso said. “When we value the ball we’re really good. Sharing the ball shows how well our offense is run.”
Odds and ends
Julijana Vojinovic set two career-highs with her 25 points and nine rebounds in this game.
“I just played like every other game,” she said. “I don’t think about it much, I shoot when I can, pass when I can. I don’t see everything all of the times but then the coaches tell me where to pass because me and Chas have to move the ball or else we slow the game.”
Burt was pleased with these milestones but the same time pushed Vojinovic for more, especially with her ninth rebound coming with 4:33 remaining in the third quarter.
Vojinovic played 26 minutes as the starters time was managed by Burt.
“I was hoping she could get that 10th rebound,” said Burt. “Juca shot the ball very well but she holds onto the ball a little long and we want to move it a little quicker. Today we didn’t need that necessarily as much but we’re still going to push her with the ball and go more North-South instead of East-West.”
Duquesne defensively made some mistakes in the first quarter and very temporarily gave Central Connecticut its only lead, one which lasted 15 seconds as Andi Lydon was making several shots. Lydon, a Shaler, PA native played against Duquesne’s Amanda Kalin in high school and Burt called the former “a very good player”. After this, Duquesne rallied and held Lydon scoreless in the second half.
There was a return to form in this game by Helmi Tulonen who had nine points and did a lot of the little things right. She often would have passes which led to baskets and did have two assists in 22 minutes. She effectively used her left hand dribble to set up a shot. Burt believes this effort will help her mentally especially since she is 4,240 miles away from home.
Eniko Kuttor had nine rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes off the bench. Kuttor came into the contest ranked fifth in the conference with 9.1 rebounds per game. Duquesne ran high-low sets on offense through her and she was able to excel.
Another sign of improvement from Kuttor is her ability to keep her arms straight up when defending the post and avoid fouling, something which was present during her freshman season.
“Having great focus is a really challenging thing for her and she’s had to learn to focus quickly because there is a competition for post minutes and she wants to play,” Burt said. “That’s going to benefit her and us in the long run.”
At Friday night’s City Game, 9-year-old Karis Thomas performed for the crowd and afterwards was met on court by the Duquesne women’s basketball team who then posed for pictures with her. Thomas recently appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America and said that she wanted to play for UConn or Duquesne because they win a lot and she likes to win.
Omogrosso remembered when she idolized NCAA Division I college basketball players and was all smiles discussing the experience.
“She looks up to us so it feels good to be her role model,” said Omogrosso. “That was us one day and for her to feel like she wants to play here, says a lot. It makes us feel good about ourselves.”
Duquesne faces a tough test Wednesday night when Toledo (5-1) visits the Palumbo Center. Toledo was set to face another Atlantic 10 team in St. Bonaventure Monday evening before making the three hour trip to Pittsburgh from there. Toledo went into Monday night’s contest with a four-game winning streak.