Dukes Lose Regular Season Finale At UMass, 77-68
March 2, 2003
Amherst, Massachusetts - Duquesne University women's basketball team's comeback effort following an 11 point halftime deficit wasn't enough as the Dukes dropped their regular season finale at Massachusetts, 77-68, Sunday afternoon at the Mullins Arena. Duquesne completes the season at 14-13, 7-9 in the Atlantic 10 West. UMass is now 14-13, 6-10 in the A-10 East.
The Dukes were led by junior Candace Futrell who tallied 31 points, breaking the 1,000 career mark in the process. Freshman Nicole Sinclair added 16 points and a team-best eight rebounds. Futrell and junior Shiri Sharon tied for the game-best with seven assists each.
With the game knotted at 9-9, UMass went on a 13-1 run in the first half to grab a 22-10 lead. Two free throws by Amber Sneed extended the spread to 28-14 at the 10:58 mark. The two teams then traded baskets for the remainder of the half with the Minutewomen taking a 41-30 lead at the break.
A basket by Siiri Liivandi at the 14:16 mark of the second half gave UMass its largest lead at 16 (54-38). Duquesne outscored UMass 15-3 over the next 5:21 to cut the deficit to just four points at 57-53. Consecutive free throws a couple of minutes later by Liivandi and Jen Butler extended the Minutewomen's lead back to 12 and they were able to hold off the Dukes for the win.
The Dukes, who were outrebounded 43-34, edged the Minutewomen in assists (18-17) as the Dukes had assists on 78.3 percent of their field goals. DU made 39.7 percent (23-58) of their shots compared to 42.9% (27-63) for the host squad.
UMass put five players, all senior starters, in double digits led by Nekole Smith's 20 points. The quintet accounted for 76 of the Minutewomen's 77 points. Butler had a game-best 11 rebounds while Ebony Pegues had a team-high six assists.
Futrell, who now has 1,008 points, is the fifth Duquesne underclassman to break 1,000, joining Korie Hlede who did so as a sophomore and Beth Friday, Darcie Vincent and Kris Sebastian who hit that threshold in their junior campaigns. Futrell sits in 16th place all-time, 12 points behind Carol Burchlaw who holds the 15th place slot with 1,020 points (1982-85).
Sinclair saw 31 minutes of playing time in place of senior Beth Friday who was ill. Friday, who today was named the A-10 Co-Player of the Week with UMass' Jen Butler, had four rebounds and one blocked shot in 11 minutes.
Senior Khalihah Este-Shehu, who has missed 16 games in her redshirt senior season, saw substantial minutes for the second straight game tallying four points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal in 24 minutes.
The Dukes next head to the Atlantic 10 Championships. They tied for 4th place in the West with Dayton, who lost their season finale 72-64 Sunday at Xavier. Both teams are 7-9 in league play but Dayton won the tie-breaker and the fourth seed. Fordham and Rhode Island also tied for fourth in the East with Fordham winning the tiebreaker between the Rams.
The tournament will be held at Rhode Island's Ryan Center in Kingston, RI from Thursday March 6th through Saturday March 8th with the final game at the campus of the higher seed on Monday, March 10th at 5:00 p.m. (ESPN2) Duquesne will open the first round of the tournament against Fordham (14-15, 5-11) at noon on Thurs. The Dukes topped the Rams 66-57 in Pittsburgh on January 19, 2003 in their only meeting this season.