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Duquesne Defense Keys 63-46 Win Over Liberty
Host Duquesne used a strong defensive effort to defeat Liberty, 63-46, in a Preseason WNIT opening-round game, Friday evening at the A.J. Palumbo Center. The Dukes held the Lady Flames to 34.8 percent field goal shooting and scored 36 points off of Liberty turnovers on the night.
Duquesne (1-0) advances to a second-round contest at North Carolina on Sunday. Meanwhile, the 0-1 Lady Flames will play a pair of Preseason WNIT consolation games next weekend. The opponents, dates, game times and location will be announced on Saturday.
Duquesne jumped out to a 5-0 lead, as it took Liberty four minutes to make its first field goal of the season, a Tolu Omotola putback of her own missed shot. The Dukes' advantage reached 10-4 on their second triple of the early going, courtesy of Orsi Szecsi at the 15:17 mark.
Liberty battled back to within 14-13, 11:32 before halftime, when Devon Brown swished a three-pointer from the right wing. The Dukes then outscored the red-clad Lady Flames, 18-5, over the next 10 minutes plus.
Duquesne led 32-18 before LaKendra Washington tallied four points during the final 1:06 of the half to cut the Lady Flames' deficit to 10 points at halftime, 32-22.
Turnovers were the key statistic during the opening 20 minutes of play, as 17 Liberty miscues led to 16 Duquesne points.
Both teams struggled shooting the basketball in the first half, with the Lady Flames hitting 33.3 percent (7-of-21) of their field goals and the Dukes connecting at a 29.4 percent (10-of-34) rate. Liberty did a good job rebounding the many missed shots, collecting 24 first-half rebounds to Duquesne's 17.
Brown paced the Lady Flames with seven points in the first half, while Omotola and Katelyn Adams grabbed four rebounds apiece. Belma Nurkic and April Robinson each notched eight points for Duquesne.
Just as it had done to start the game, Duquesne scored the first five points of the second half. The Dukes' cushion reached 37-22 when Nurkic's third triple of the game found the bottom of the net with 19:15 on the clock.
Two Brown hoops within a 35-second span trimmed the gap to 37-26 with 17:19 remaining. However, the Lady Flames got no closer the rest of the way.
Duquesne's lead reached 22 points on two occasions during the second half, before the Dukes wrapped up their first-ever Preseason WNIT victory, 63-46. It was also the 100th career victory for Duquesne head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio.
Liberty actually shot a higher percentage from the field than Duquesne for the game, 34.8 percent (16-of-46) to 29.7 percent (19-of-64). However, the Dukes made seven triples to Liberty's one, and got to the foul line 10 more times than the visitors, 26-16.
The Lady Flames finished with a 45-35 rebounding edge, but it was Duquesne which scored more second-chance points (22-12). Liberty's bench outscored its counterpart, 18-16, with 12 different Lady Flames seeing action.
Brown led all players with 19 points for the game, shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line. The redshirt senior leapfrogged former teammate Avery Warley for fifth place on Liberty's all-time scoring list with 1,460 career points. She also pulled down four rebounds, becoming the ninth Lady Flame ever to grab 600 career boards.
Redshirt freshman Adams made a strong collegiate debut with eight points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots in 15 minutes off of head coach Carey Green's bench. She shared game-high rebounding honors with teammate Jasmine Gardner, who collected eight rebounds in her second career start.
Nurkic paced the victors with 15 points, while backcourt mate Robinson finished with 14 points, seven assists and three steals in her collegiate debut. Szecsi chipped in a team-high seven rebounds, and Jocelyn Floyd came up with seven of Duquesne's 21 steals.