Duquesne women rebound for easy win

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In Duquesne's loss Sunday at Charlotte -- its first Atlantic 10 defeat of the season -- the Dukes were outrebounded badly.

Heading into her team's game Thursday against St. Bonaventure, Dukes coach Suzie McConnell-Serio made rebounding a focal point, and the message got across loud and clear.

Duquesne dominated the Bonnies on the glass, allowing just three offensive rebounds, and got back on track with a 61-33 win at Palumbo Center.

"[Our goal was] just taking more pride in the rebounding," Dukes guard Vanessa Abel said. "Rebounding is just heart, effort and getting on the boards, and we did that tonight."

St. Bonaventure's motion offense usually does not provide it with a lot of offensive rebounding opportunities, but the Dukes suffocated the Bonnies on the perimeter and inside, limiting them to one shot -- or no shots -- on almost every possession.

"I thought our players were very aware of rebounding and boxing out tonight," McConnell-Serio said. "Pursuing the basketball and making plays."

As usual, the Dukes' pressure defense did its share of the job, too.

Duquesne ranks second in Division I with 13.9 steals per game, and had 14 Thursday night. They forced the Bonnies into 21 total turnovers.

Jocelyn Floyd, who leads all Division I players with 5.0 steals per game, had four.

"Coming in, we still had our press, but we fell back into a man-to-man and I thought our players responded very well defensively in the transition from pressing into man-to-man," McConnell-Serio said. "We were able to create scoring opportunities, we were able to cause turnovers and we've been much better when our defense has been able to create our offense."

On offense, Duquesne got a balanced scoring effort, with three players scoring in double figures. Abel -- making her sixth start after being granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA Dec. 7 -- scored 10 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers to open the scoring for the Dukes.

"The ability to get by people and create scoring opportunities, create for her teammates, those have come back with more game experience," McConnell-Serio said of Abel. "Now, being in the starting lineup, she's impacting the game, she's making things happen."

April Robinson led Duquesne with 11 points and Wumi Agunbiade, the Dukes' leading scorer for the season, added 10 points and five rebounds despite facing double teams on most of her touches.

"I'm kind of getting more used to [facing double teams] as the season has progressed," Agunbiade said. "I would just read the defense. If the help came from the high side, I'd go low, try to adjust throughout the game."

The Dukes return to action Sunday against Richmond. The loss to Charlotte dropped Duquesne into second place in the conference standings behind Dayton (20-1, 8-0) and Saint Joseph's (16-5, 7-0), which will visit Palumbo Center Wednesday.

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Sam Werner: swerner@post-gazette.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.


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