Duquesne women improve to 5-0 in Atlantic 10

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Duquesne knocked off Fordham, 68-50, Sunday at Palumbo Center to push into a two-way tie atop the Atlantic 10 standings with No. 17 Dayton.

It was the fifth consecutive win for the Dukes, who are 16-3 overall and 5-0 in the conference for the first time in program history.

Wumi Agunbiade had a game-high 22 points and Orsi Szecsi registered a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

But the difference was Duquesne's stifling defense.

The Dukes opened with an 11-0 run, holding Fordham scoreless for almost seven minutes, then opened their lead to 20 by halftime.

"This is a great win against a very good team I had a lot of concerns [about] coming in," said coach Suzie McConnell-Serio. "It amazes me our players have continued to buy in defensively, execute the game plan, key on the players and personnel we need to."

Going into the game, Fordham (14-6, 4-1) was locked in a four-way tie atop the league with a cluster of 4-0 teams: Dayton, Duquesne and Saint Joseph's.

The Dukes were coached to shut down the Rams' top two scorers -- Marah Strickland and Erin Rooney, who combined for 10 points.

That opened up room for 6-foot-2 freshman Samantha Clark, who was tough to guard in the paint. She put up 19 points with 11 rebounds.

"This team, I felt, was going to pose a lot of problems for us defensively, size-wise," said McConnell-Serio. "I didn't think we matched up size-wise. ... I've just seen [Fordham] over and over, so many games I've seen on film, just be successful offensively. I was very proud to get off to such a good start defensively and be able to maintain that."

Fordham was held scoreless for 6:42 to open the game, and first got on the board when Arielle Collins hit the second of two free throws to make it 11-1.

The Rams shot 0 for 7 in that span as Duquesne made 5 of 12. The Dukes led, 38-18, at halftime.

By halftime, Szecsi had a game-high 12 points, 5 rebounds and a steal, and Duquesne had 19 points off turnovers.

The Dukes finished with 31 points off 23 turnovers and won the rebounding battle, 68-50.

"We take care of the ball. We count on every possession. I feel like this year it's all about defense," said Szecsi.

She said the fast start helped put the pressure on.

During the win streak, Duquesne also has beaten Xavier, Saint Louis, Temple and VCU.

"I think there's something special about this team," said Agunbiade. "Our chemistry, I can't even put words to it. We just have really good chemistry on and off the floor. Everyone has a focus. And we're focused on that one goal -- to win our conference and make history."

Next up for the Dukes is George Washington, an 11 a.m. game Wednesday on the road.

"We just talk about preparing one game at a time," said McConnell-Serio. "We already talked about what tomorrow brings as far as preparation for George Washington. We always use two days. We don't talk about the standings [or] talk about anything but what we need to do for the upcoming game."

NOTES -- Sunday marked the return of senior guard Jocelyn Floyd, who missed the past two games with a shoulder injury. She had 2 points, 4 rebounds and 5 steals in 15 minutes.

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1959.


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