Duquesne women to face Seton Hall in first round of NCAA tournament
March 14, 2016 10:45 PM
Members of the Duquesne women's basketball team celebrate as their name is announced among the field for the NCAA tournament Monday at a watch party at the Rivertown Hall of Fame Club at PNC Park.
Members of the Duquesne women's basketball team celebrate after their name was announced among the field for the NCAA tournament Monday at a watch party at the Rivertown Hall of Fame Club at PNC Park.
By Sam Werner / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
When Amadea Szamosi saw the word “Duquesne” along with the Dukes’ script ‘D’ logo flash onto the TV screen Monday night on ESPN, she didn’t look ahead to the Dukes’ forthcoming NCAA tournament game against Seton Hall — heck, she was probably too busy jumping up and down with her teammates to even notice their opponent.
Instead, Szamosi’s mind went backwards, to the disappointing Selection Mondays of past years, and, more recently, to each and every victory the Dukes clawed out in this historic season.
“The whole season just scrolled in front of my eyes,” Szamosi said.
Duquesne reacts to NCAA bid
Members of the Duquesne women's basketball team celebrate as their name is announced among the field for the NCAA tournament Monday at a watch party at the Rivertown Hall of Fame Club at PNC Park. (Video by Matt Freed; 3/14/2016)
“When I saw our names, I was thinking about all those one-point games and overtime games that we were just pushing through. How we won them together as a team by sticking together as a team, and each of us believed that we could win that one single game.”
Now, the Dukes have one more game to look ahead to — the first NCAA tournament game in program history. Duquesne, seeded No. 9, will face 8th-seeded Seton Hall in the first round at 1:30 p.m.Saturday in Storrs, Conn.
The Dukes watched the selection show at a public party in PNC Park’s Rivertowne Hall of Fame Club with hundreds of fans in attendance.
ESPN also made sure to add plenty of drama to the proceedings. The Dukes had to wait 40 minutes from the beginning of the show, until the fourth and final region was unveiled, to hear their name called.
“I’m kind of glad that’s the way it went,” coach Dan Burt said. “I didn’t want to be first and then it kind of be a letdown the rest of the show. I liked the tension. It was good.”
The Dukes had some good signs along the way. St. Bonaventure, for instance, received a No. 10 seed in the first region announced. The Bonnies finished behind Duquesne in the Atlantic 10 Conference standings, and had a lower Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).
As soon as St. Bonaventure’s name came up, guard Deva’Nyar Workman took to reassuring her teammates that if the Bonnies were in, the Dukes were fine.
“Once I saw St. Bonaventure, I was like, ‘There’s no way we’re not in this tournament, at all,’ ” Workman said. “That made me feel a little bit better, but I still had that nervousness inside of me.”
Point guard April Robinson compared that nervous feeling to going up a roller coaster, and when Duquesne was announced, the release of going down the big drop.
She also, though, recalled what it felt like three years ago, when that release never came. The Dukes were expected to make the field in 2013, but were left out on Selection Monday.
Robinson admitted she was more confident this time around, but wasn’t quite sure until it was official.
Burt, meanwhile, was much more sure that the Dukes would be dancing this weekend.
“I had no doubt that we were in,” he said. “I’m disappointed that we were a 9. We’ll use that as a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. I thought we should’ve been an 8, possibly even a 7.”
The trouble with Duquesne’s seed is that if the Dukes get past Seton Hall, it most likely would mean a date with No. 1 and undefeated Connecticut in the second round.
The Huskies have won 69 games in a row, and are prohibitive favorites to win their fourth consecutive NCAA championship. They will play 16th-seeded Robert Morris Saturday in the first round in the game before the Dukes.
“It’s a little bit unlucky, but [Duquesne forward] Kadri[-Ann Lass] told me, ‘There’s no such thing as an unbeatable team,’ ” Szamosi said. “I think UConn obviously has very good players and their program is on a high level. You never know.”
Sam Werner: email@example.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.
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