West Virginia improved to 10-1 with a win over the Dukes of Duquesne this afternoon 88-80. The Dukes rallied from a 61-35 deficit at the under 12 minute media to make a game of it, itching to within four points late. However, WVU’s free throw shooting was one of the stories of the game, as the Mountaineers seemingly made every free throw (ok…it was only 37 of 43 for 86%) down the stretch to prevent the Dukes from getting back in the game completely. The Dukes fall to 8-4.
The game featured the first time Dukes fans got a glimpse of Olivia Bresnahan, a Florida State transfer. Bresnahan played extremely well off the bench for the Dukes, scoring 19 points and often taking control of the offense. Olivia also played decent defense too from what I saw. She’ll be a key addition for the Dukes and may very easily find her way into the starting lineup as soon as the next game against Pitt. I said in the preview to the game that I liked April Robinson’s matchup against Stephney. April proved me right, leading the Dukes in scoring with 20 while dishing out seven assists. Wumi Agunbiade also had a hard-fought 17 points against WVU’s inside defense.
The downside was the play of the other inside players for the Dukes other than Agunbiade. Jose-Ann Johnson was a fouling machine who didn’t provide much of anything other than four fouls in six minutes. Stasia King played probably average for her, but was no match going up against some of the bigs from WVU. Orsi struggled with her shot, missing a couple of easy layups as did Wumi Agunbiade. The good thing was to make up for some of the inside game struggling the perimeter guards rebounded excellently. Belma Nurkic and Raegan Moore both hit the glass with ferocity up against some strong players for West Virginia, and the weight room work paid off as they were able to snag a few rebounds on strength and determination.
For the Mountaineers, Bussie was every bit the potential first-round potential WNBA draft pick that she was before the ACL tear. She played limited minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, but scored 17 points on 7-8 shooting and had all the quick footwork that typically doesn’t come with a 6-4 center. It was a team effort win for the Mountaineers, and a well deserved victory.
The loss is extremely detrimental to the Dukes NCAA hopes. The Dukes will likely have to go 14-2 in the A-10 just to have a shot at an at-large for the NCAA Tournament, and that will be no easy feat. That’s not saying it can’t happen – if the Dukes play the way they did the last 12 minutes today a lot is possible – but it seems extremely unlikely. The rest of the A-10 didn’t help the Dukes much today either, with St. Joe’s losing at the buzzer to Syracuse and George Mason and Rhode Island also losing by one possession.
Next up for the Dukes is the City Game at Pitt and Suzie McConnell-Serio next Sunday at 6:00 PM.