Duquesne women fall to George Washington, 63-60, in Atlantic 10 title game
March 6, 2016 10:09 PM
Chet Strange/Associated Press
Duquesne's April Robinson drives the ball past George Washington's Brianna Cummings and Caira Washington, center, during an NCAA college basketball championship game in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament in Richmond, Va.
Chet Strange/Associated Press
The George Washington Colonials celebrate their win over Duquesne.
By Sam Werner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
RICHMOND, Va. — As Duquesne point guard April Robinson went up for a 3-pointer that would have tied the score in the waning seconds of the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament championship Sunday against George Washington, teammate Deva’Nyar Workman knew there was a chance.
It was off-balance and well-contested, sure. But this was Robinson, who less that 24 hours earlier had drilled a corner 3 to clinch the Dukes’ first appearance in the league title game.
“There’s always a chance with April,” Workman said. “She’s a shooter.”
This shot clanked off the back of the rim, though, sending the Colonials spilling onto the court celebrating a 63-60 win and consecutive Atlantic 10 championships.
The Dukes are still a virtual lock to earn the program’s first NCAA tournament bid when the field is announced next Monday, but they wanted a conference title to go along with that NCAA banner.
“Very frankly, this’ll sting,” coach Dan Burt said. “This’ll sting for a day or two more.”
Robinson’s miss capped a fourth quarter that saw the Dukes go 1 for 19 from the field — a number Burt didn’t realize until he looked at the stat sheet after the game — and miss their final 14 field-goal attempts.
“We went dry,” Burt said. “We’ve had that problem in the last month or so where we’ve had spells of five, six, seven minutes where we’re not able to score. [Sunday], I thought we had good looks, they had Jonquel Jones.”
Jones, a George Washington forward, was a force for the Colonials down low. She scored just 10 points, but grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked 6 shots — not counting the numerous shots she altered or prevented the Dukes from taking.
“In 19 years, she might be the most disruptive defensive player that I’ve seen,” Burt said.
For most of the game, Duquesne was able to counter Jones’ defensive presence with crisp offensive execution. They jumped to a 10-3 lead in the first quarter before a cold shooting spell allowed the Colonials to creep back in it.
Once the Dukes found their offensive rhythm, though, they pulled right back ahead. A 3-pointer from freshman forward Angela Staffileno — who had attempted just 10 3-pointers this season coming into the game — gave Duquesne a 41-34 lead heading into halftime.
Staffileno finished with 11 points, including 2 of 3 from beyond the arc. The one miss — which was halfway down before it rattled out — came in the Dukes fourth-quarter drought, and would’ve put the Dukes up, 60-55, with 7:55 left.
“If that last 3 doesn’t go in and out, we’ve got 60 right there, and maybe it’s a tie game and we’re going to overtime,” Burt said. “But I can’t fault that kid for anything, she came up big time for us when we needed her.”
Burt admitted he felt like his team started to press offensively when shots weren’t falling in the fourth quarter. But with Jones protecting the rim and 3-pointers clanking out, there wasn’t a whole lot the Dukes could do to jump-start their offense.
“Jonquel is just such a disruptive force,” Burt said. “They allowed us to shoot the 3 at the beginning of the game in the first half and that was really good. When they started really guarding us, and you go 1 for 19, you have something like this.”
Despite the cold shooting, the Dukes were able to hang with George Washington for most of the fourth quarter, until Jones asserted herself on the offensive end in the final minutes. She made a put-back layup with 3:07 left to give the Colonials a four-point lead, and hit a fadeaway jumper at a shot-clock buzzer to extend the lead to 63-57. The Dukes hit three free throws to set up Robinson’s last-second chance, but one final missed field goal meant they went home empty-handed.
Workman — who led all scorers Sunday with 19 points — and freshman Kadri-Ann Lass made the all-tournament team for Duquesne, joined by Jones, Caira Washington and Hannah Schaible from the Colonials.
Still, as Workman and Lass held their all-tournament trophies, they had to look at the big trophy sitting there that had just barely eluded them.
“We made history,” Workman said. “Not quite like we wanted to, but we did the best that we could.”
Sam Werner: email@example.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.
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