Duquesne's Amadea Szamosi takes a rebound away from Dayton's Ashleigh Parkinson in the Dukes' game at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
Duquesne University women's basketball coach Dan Burt talks with guard Chassidy Omogrosse during a time out in their 89-58 win over Dayton.
Duquesne women's basketball coach Dan Burt enjoys the runaway victory against Dayton.
Duquesne's April Robinson shoots under Dayton's Jodie Cornelie-Sigmundova. Robinson scored a triple-double, the third in school history.
Duquesne's Emilie Gronas loses the ball defended by Dayton's Andrijana Cvitkovic under the Dayton basket.
Duquesne's Chassidy Omogrosse goes to the floor after being fouled by Dayton's Lauren Cannatelli.
By Sam Werner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Duquesne women’s basketball coach Dan Burt wants to make it very clear that he doesn’t care about polls or rankings in the first week of January.
That said, after Duquesne’s 89-58 Atlantic 10 Conference victory Sunday against Dayton — the Dukes’ 12th win in a row — Burt did have some thoughts on the topic.
“The real story is if we’re not ranked after this and what we’ve done, then I don’t know what we need to do, and it’s that simple,” Burt said. “I think we’ve proven ourselves to be one of the better teams in the country.”
The latest proof came Sunday at Palumbo Center, when the Dukes absolutely laid waste to the Flyers’ six-game winning streak in the series, which dated to 2011.
Burt said that before the game, assistant Eddie Benton turned to him and noted that he didn’t sense any sort of intimidation factor from his players, despite the fact that none of them had ever beaten the Flyers.
Burt was hesitant to call that mindset a new phenomenon, instead calling it an “evolution” from the 2014-15 team, which finished 23-11 and advanced to the third round of the WNIT.
“[Our seniors last year] really helped establish what we are this year with their work ethic, how gritty they were and how hard they play,” Burt said.
“Those underclassmen last year saw that and now they’ve embraced it in the same manor and they’ve taught the freshmen.”
Senior point guard April Robinson — who recorded the third triple-double in Duquesne history Sunday with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists — said this team has adopted the mindset of always playing like its down 20, regardless of the actual score.
Burt is a bit more modest, resetting the score to 0-0 at the beginning of every quarter and challenging his team to win each 10-minute segment. Sunday, they accomplished just that.
“I know last year, we kind of incorporated that, but this year, we try and win every quarter,” Robinson said. “That’s our biggest thing.”
It was especially valuable against Dayton, coming on the heels of Duquesne’s 79-65 victory Wednesday against Pitt. Even though the Dukes took down their crosstown rivals, they let a 20-point lead dwindle to nine in the fourth quarter. Burt said he reminded his players of that in every second-half timeout Sunday, and it worked.
“It helped us that the last game, we were up 20,” said forward Amadea Szamosi, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds for Duquesne.
“How did it feel to let up? It was one of the worst feelings ever.”
Staying focused on micro goals — such as winning every quarter — has helped the Dukes succeed this season, but Burt admitted the team also has bigger goals: 24 wins, 12 conference wins, 72 points per game.
And, of course, the biggest goal of all: Duquesne’s first NCAA tournament bid.
Burt would be the first to tell you that an appearance in the rankings in early January hardly locks up a postseason bid. But it doesn’t hurt, either.
“It’s great for recruiting, it’s great for the kids, it’s great for our university,” Burt said. “But at the end of the day, it means nothing at the beginning of January.”
Sam Werner: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @SWernerPG.
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