Women’s Basketball’s Offensive Woes Continue in 71-54 Loss to Duquesne

Photo credit: GW women’s basketball

By Liam O’Murchu (@Liam_0__)

Women’s basketball fell to Duquesne 71-54 on Wednesday night in their third consecutive loss to open conference play.

The offensive troubles continued for the Revolutionaries (7-8, 0-3 A10), as they shot only 32.7% from the field and had just two players who scored double digits. Meanwhile, the Dukes (8-7, 3-1 A10) had a strong and balanced performance, shooting 45.2% from the floor with four players getting into double digits.

“Our scoring woes and having droughts doesn’t allow us to be successful.” GW head coach Caroline McCombs said. “They had some people come off the bench that tried to take advantage of some mismatches, so credit to Duquesne for finding those weaknesses and exploiting it.”

Duquesne started the game by getting the ball down low to senior center Ayanna Townsend often and held a 10-5 lead at the first media timeout thanks to eight points from the Pittsburgh native. Pounding the ball down low early was an interesting wrinkle for a Dukes team who’d attempted and made the most three pointers in the conference coming into the game, and although it was working they were unable to pull away. Duquesne led 16-14 at the end of the first quarter.

The lead quickly grew to 30-21 for Duquesne but they still weren’t connecting on three pointers and GW did a good job keeping the Dukes star junior guard Megan McConnell from making the impact she’s capable of making. Coming into the game she led the team in points, assists, rebounds, and steals along with leading the country in minutes per game.

The Revs put together an 8-1 run to end the second quarter and trailed 35-32 at halftime. The Dukes were shooting just 2-for-7 from beyond the arc and both teams were plagued with turnovers throughout the first half, combining for 20 before halftime. The Revs knew they were doing well to stifle the Dukes from beyond the arc but also knew they needed to continue to do so. Naturally, Duquesne hit three open corner threes to start the second half and suddenly GW was down double digits.

“We didn’t implement what we talked about at half.” McCombs said. “We talked about their three point shooting and how we’d done a pretty good job in the first half and boom, boom, boom, they came out and hit three threes.”

Once again, GW pulled within a possession at 44-41 thanks to excellent defense, which led to opportunities on the other end. But as was the case all night, Duquesne came roaring back and pushed the lead to 54-46 heading into the fourth quarter.

GW was slow to start the fourth quarter, stymying any chance of a comeback. After hanging with the Dukes offensively for the first three quarters, the Revs were outscored 17-8 in the final stanza and shot just 3-for-17 from the field, allowing the Dukes to push the lead to 19.

Sophomore guard Nya Robertson came off the bench for the third consecutive game after coming back from injury and led the team in scoring for the second time of those three outings with 17 points. However, Robertson shot just 5-for-19 from the field and 2-for-8 from three point range.

Graduate guard Nya Lok was the other double digit scorer for GW, finishing with 16 points to go with a team-high 8 rebounds. On the other side, senior forward Amaya Hamilton excelled for Duquesne, scoring 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting along with 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. But arguably the star of the show for the Dukes was Hagerstown, Maryland native freshman guard Gabby Grantham-Medley, who had a sizable cheering section. She finished with 13 points and three rebounds on 6-for-12 shooting from the floor.

“They had some other people that came off the bench, number one (sophomore guard Jerni Kiaku) and number 10 (Grantham-Medley) really just did a good job for them.” McCombs said. “They’re not go-to players, they have a lot of other go-to players, but they played like go-to players tonight.”

As has been the case all year, GW could not play a complete game and looked bereft of ideas offensively. There was an effort to post up and drive into the lane, especially as the Dukes’ frontcourt players got into foul trouble in the first half. However, this often resulted in low quality shots or sloppy turnovers. The Revs’ assist to turnover ratio was a measly 8-to-20 and the spacing remains off kilter with graduate forwards Maren Durant and Mayowa Taiwo on the floor at the same time. To compound these issues, the ball movement is lackluster and the offense continues to be predictable. Many possessions are either a contested three pointer from Lok or Robertson or a series of handoffs at the top of the key before someone drives into the lane and forces a shot up.

As frustrating as the opening games of conference play have been, the Revs have played three of the better teams in the league who have a combined conference record of 10-2. GW is the only team without an Atlantic 10 win but 83% of the conference schedule remains for them to turn it around.

Their first opportunity to do so will be Sunday at St. Bonaventure, a notoriously difficult place to travel to as it sits over an hour from any airport in western New York. But McCombs said her days at Stony Brook prepared her well for trips like this.

“I used to drive to Maine for like nine hours.” McCombs said. “So I’ve been on some brutal buses and road trips. Quite honestly, I think we’ll be okay.”

The Revs will fly to Buffalo on Saturday before driving an hour and a half to Olean for a noon tip off on Sunday. The game can be streamed on ESPN+.

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