Heading into halftime against George Washington Wednesday night at Palumbo Center, Duquesne coach Dan Burt could sense that even though his team had a seven-point lead, the defense could be a concern.
It didn't take long for his fears to be realized in the second half, as George Washington raced past the Dukes en route to a 80-68 win.
The loss ended Duquesne's seven-game winning streak and knocked them out of first place in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
"They came out in the second half, they punched us in the face and we did not respond," Burt said. "This is a very disappointing loss because everything that we had really built up over that seven-game winning streak, a lot of confidence and what I thought was toughness. [Wednesday night] we were out-toughed by two freshmen."
Freshman forward Caira Washington did most of the damage for George Washington with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Five of those rebounds came on the offensive end, as George Washington outscored Duquesne, 16-5, on second-chance points.
"They just kept rebounding the ball and we couldn't stop them," said Dukes forward Orsi Szecsi, who had 18 points and eight rebounds.
The Dukes led, 38-31, at halftime, but became completely unraveled in the second half. George Washington slowly clawed back into the game and, with just over 11 minutes to play, had tied it at 55-55.
The teams traded baskets for a few minutes, but then the Colonials ripped off a 15-3 run that gave them a 76-63 lead and sent the Dukes reeling.
"I think we get complacent and it's almost like we're watching ourselves play basketball instead of actually playing basketball," said guard Raegan Moore, who led the Dukes with 21 points.
Instead of going to the basket, Duquesne settled mostly for outside jump shots. They were outscored in the paint, 46-30.
"If we had to do it all over again, we'd be driving the ball a lot more and attacking in the paint," Burt said.
Forward Wumi Agunbiade, who averages 15.1 points and 7.9 rebounds per game for the Dukes, had just nine points and four boards.
"Any time Wumi caught the ball, if she had a clean catch, it was very difficult because of the way they were guarding her," Burt said. "They were going to take away Wumi and say someone else is going to beat you."
The loss could serve as a wake-up call for the Dukes, who head into their biggest game of the season Saturday against first-place Dayton.
"I don't know if I'd view [the loss] as a setback," Moore said. "Maybe it gives us a little more motivation to work harder in practice. It hurts, but I think some of us needed it. Some of us needed to be pushed."
Sam Werner: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @SWernerPG.