PITTSBURGH — Richmond women’s basketball junior forward Jaide Hinds-Clarke transitioned down the court midway through the fourth quarter, determined to get a layup, but did not expect to be met by Duquesne redshirt sophomore guard/forward Halle Bovell.
Bovell was running nearly stride-for-stride with Hinds-Clarke and offered an emphatic block which brought the Palumbo Center to its feet.
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“For me, I turned the ball over, that’s the only reason they had the ball, so that should not happen,” Bovell said. “(When) you cause a turnover, you have to get the ball back, that’s how I was taught. That’s kind of how the big play came about. I had one big block before in Canada, but nothing where the crowd reacted like that. Our home crowd was great today, so loud and brought so much energy into our game.”
Duquesne handily defeated Richmond 80-54 at the Palumbo Center Saturday afternoon, but the block still had coach Dan Burt buzzing and the team’s Twitter account attempted to get the play on SportsCenter’s Top 10 list.
“We only had one player not score a basket, but she probably had the best play of the game,” said Burt. “Halle Bovell’s block in transition was NBA-esque with how high she got up.”
⏱️ 4:59 4Q
🏀 DUQ 69, UR 45
— Duquesne Women's Basketball (@DuqWBB) January 19, 2019
It has not been an easy road for Bovell at Duquesne as she had to fight to avoid a redshirt her freshman year and averaged 6.5 minutes a game.
“It’s been a tough trip coming in and everyone expects to play and that’s not how it always works out in your first year,” said Bovell.
Last season, Bovell did redshirt, with the intention being to work on her shot, specifically to have more arc and less of a line drive feel.
Bovell admitted that the start of her redshirt season was tough and served as a low point, but she turned it into a strength.
“That’s always a tough adjustment going from maybe getting some minutes to not even getting a chance to play,” she said. “That was a tough adjustment for me, but my redshirt group I had Laia (Sole) with me, she was a great help and we worked out hard together. Every redshirt workout was tough but we’re stronger because of it now.”
It appeared going into this season that playing time would again be challenging to come by for Bovell since Duquesne returned all of its guards from last season’s team and the three seniors playing the position all receiving some form of Atlantic 10 preseason recognition, but a simple question changed that.
What if Bovell played a post position?
The idea would provide Duquesne flexibility and offer a counter to an idea the Golden State Warriors implement with plenty of success.
“The big change this year was going from guard to post,” Bovell said. “It’s been a tough adjustment, but I think I am aided by my athletic ability which allows me to compete at that spot undersized.”
This suggestion intrigued Burt and also meant Bovell would not have to prioritize shooting but rather using her grit, toughness and athleticism to contribute on the court.
“When an opportunity arises, you take it and her moving to the post was an opportunity,” said Burt. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you we expected that, because we didn’t. but she’s a valuable and integral part of our team that will play important minutes and she can defend. We can switch 1-though-4. A lot of teams in our league play four guards, so when she is in we can switch 1 through 4 and not miss a beat. Halle’s never quit. She’s been disgruntled, frustrated, I’m sure she’s been sad, but she’s happy now.”
Though Bovell still has plenty of basketball to play at Duquesne, she has learned plenty of valuable lessons and has embraced the challenges to better herself both on and off the court.
“It’s always tough, but everything I’ve been though I have always come out stronger than before,” she said. “If I know that, whatever role I am in I’ll come out and be okay, I’ll get through it. My team will hold me up and I’ll be good.”
RICHARDSON LEADS BY EXAMPLE
It has also been a challenging season for Conor Richardson who after starting the season’s first two games had knee surgery which held her out for nearly a month’s worth of action.
Upon returning, Richardson has slowly seen an increase in minutes and plenty of bike riding when substituting back into a game.
“I’m an old lady now, so I am doing what I can for my team,” she said. “If it’s not on the court, it’s definitely on the bench, just being a leader. I can verbally let my teammates know what they need to do, what we need to do. I’m just pushing through at this point doing what I can and being as tough as I can. It’s hard but I’m a tough cookie I can figure that out.”
When Burt had his critical press conference following the Davidson loss, it would have been easy to be critical of Richardson since she had seven turnovers, but instead he called her an on court leader. Burt stated that among the upperclassmen, Richardson led by example.
“It just shows his trust that he has in me which means everything,” said Richardson. “It’s the trust that regardless of my mistakes, he’ll let me play through them. For every mistakes you need to do two things well. It’s onto the next play, so it’s about just keep going.”
It is apparent that when Richardson is on the court, she gives her all and it all stems back to her ultimate goal at Duquesne.
“I want to leave this place better than when I came in,” Richardson said. “Anything I can do for these girls, I’ll do anything.”
Efforts such as Saturday’s, help place Richardson one step closer to achieving just that.
“Everyone is buying in and it shows,” said Richardson. “You hear the bench and you see the passion. That’s the type of basketball you want to be a part of and the type of basketball you want to watch.”
I GOT A REALLY BIG TEAM
Saturday’s win against Richmond proved to be the best team effort of the season with Burt stating it was nearly a complete, 40-minute effort.
“I feel really good about where the team was today, contributions from literally everyone,” he said. “You don’t see 51 rebounds every day. We thought we would win the rebounding battle. You also have everyone on the team rebound which is even better than the 50. I am really happy with our box outs and rarely missed on those.”
Duquesne shot 46.7% from the field which Burt said is close to if not a return to where the team was last year.
These makes are critical, as Richardson states this solves a lot of problems and that there never appeared to be any panic from the team, even when Richmond cut the lead to four points in the second quarter.
We were humbled,” said Richardson. “We came into this season thinking we had a decent year and with everyone back and the conference down in a sense and we thought we would come in and wipe it out. We realized after a first couple of games this would be a lot harder than we thought. There were some teams we shouldn’t have lost to period. That definitely woke us up and made us realize we had work to do and this wouldn’t be handed to us.”
Early on in the game, Richmond attempted several backdoor cuts but Duquesne quickly caught on and met the Spiders players, which forced several quick three-point shots to be fired.
“We knew that they could do that,” Burt said. “We feel we defend backdoors better than direct dribble drives. Our big thing we’ve been talking about it not letting people have direct drives to the rim. We’ve done a much better job the last three games.”
In total, Duquesne assisted on 25 of its 28 makes, including all 11 in the first half while everyone received meaningful minutes.
As a result, everyone grabbed a rebound and 11 of the 12 Dukes had a positive plus/minus led by senior forward Kadri-Ann Lass’s +26.
“I think we’re looking like the old Dukes back out there again and you can tell from the bench energy that everyone invested and wants to be here playing,” said Bovell. “Everyone wants to beat you, and everyone beat us, so there’s something to play for, something to play up to. We’ve gotten a taste and now we want more. We’ve had a taste and know what we can do and want to keep building on that.”
HE SAID IT
“I know how important basketball is to her and to her family and I hate to hear that. She is a good kid, a very good person and I know she is a good student. I’ve had one or two players medically disqualified because of concussions also and you don’t want to see that for anyone. A lot of prayers and positive vibes to the Gribble family, her in particular.” – Burt on Friday’s news about Pitt guard Alayna Gribble being granted medical disqualification due to multiple concussions