Connect with us
PSN is sponsored by Beaver County Auto

Pittsburgh Sports Now

Duquesne Women's Basketball

Duquesne’s Nina Aho, Libby Bazelak receive A-10 recognition

Duquesne’s Nina Aho, Libby Bazelak receive A-10 recognition


PITTSBURGH — Thursday, the Atlantic 10 revealed its annual All-Conference Awards and both Nina Aho and Libby Bazelak received honors for how they performed both on and off the court as members of the Duquesne women’s basketball team.

Bazelak was named to the All-A-10 second team, while Aho was selected to the A-10 all-defensive team.

Aho has had serious injuries to overcome and this year started all 28 games she played in, missing two due to a concussion before coming back in a big way against City Game rival Pitt on both ends of the floor.

“If it is defending their best guard for 40 minutes, a point guard, whatever they need to support them and help them,” Aho said in January. “Defensively, I think my talking has definitely gotten better. I just try my best. Defense is almost the easiest part of playing, it is your heart, your effort and will.”

During conference play, head coach Dan Burt praised Aho’s defensive effort calling her perhaps Duquesne’s best defender, which says a lot given Bazelak’s ability to rebound the basketball and stay on the court as well as Amanda Kalin’s hustle and 29 blocks to date from the guard position. Aho keyed in on defenders and though no stat specifically pops out, her effort was always there while the opposing players were consistently held in check.

Bazelak won two separate awards, making all-conference second team and earned a spot on the all-academic team.

Currently, Bazelak leads Duquesne with 13.5 points- and 6.4 rebounds per game. At the end of the regular season, Bazelak ranked fifth in NCAA D-I with her 46.3% shooting percentage from three and has made 61 triples to date. She shared A-10 Co-Player of the Week on Dec. 23 after achieving a double-double against Saint Francis and flirting with one against Kennesaw State. Her career-high 23 points was achieved on Feb. 2 @ VCU. She has achieved double figures in 26 games this season including 11 of Duquesne’s first 12 games and 15 of the team’s 16 conference games.

“What sets her aside from other players is her toughness,” Duquesne coach Dan Burt said in December. “She is just mentally tough and doesn’t let things slow her down from a physical standpoint. Mentally she is tough on the court from quarter one to quarter four. That is a real testament to her and who she is. She is just a winner from the word go.”

As a 5-foot-9 guard, she achieved four double-doubles and averages 6.4 rebounds a game. After serving as a complimentary piece in previous seasons, Bazelak became a leader and a focal point for opposing defenses while playing through a pre-season injury and still ranks third in the conference with 1041 minutes played (35.9 a game). Bazelak, a physician’s assistant major carries a 3.8 GPA which allowed her to earn a spot on the All-Academic Team.

Here is the full ballot as released by the conference.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Bre Cavanaugh, Fordham

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Danielle Hammond, VCU

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Suzi-Rose Deegan, Davidson

COACH OF THE YEAR

Shauna Greenm, Dayton

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Kendra Wilken, Saint Louis

SIXTH WOMAN OF THE YEAR AWARD

Madison Hattix-Covington, VCU       

ALL-CONFERENCE FIRST TEAM

Suzi-Rose Deegan, Davidson

Jayla Scaife, Dayton

Bre Cavanaugh, Fordham

Nicole Jorgensen, Rhode Island

Ciaja Harbison, Saint Louis

Tera Reed,  VCU

ALL-CONFERENCE SECOND TEAM

Erin Whalen, Dayton

Libby Bazelak, Duquesne

Nicole Cardano-Hillary, George Mason

Sam Breen, Massachusetts

Hailey Leidel, Massachusetts

Danielle Hammond, VCU

ALL-CONFERENCE THIRD TEAM

Katie Turner, Davidson

Kendell Heremaia, Fordham

Davida Dale, Rhode Island

Jaide Hinds-Clarke, Richmond

Kendra Wilken, Saint Louis

Taya Robinson, VCU

ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM*

Jayla Scaife, Dayton

Araion Bradshaw, Dayton

Nina Aho, Duquesne

Shalina Miller, La Salle

Danielle Hammond, VCU

Taya Robinson, VCU

ALL-ROOKIE TEAM

Suzi-Rose Deegan, Davidson

Anna DeWolfe, Fordham

Mayowa Taiwo, George Washington

Claire Jacobs, La Salle

Rachel Kent, Saint Louis

ALL-ACADEMIC TEAM

Libby Bazelak, Duquesne

Hailey Leidel, Massachusetts

Erin Whalen, Dayton

Sarah Kaminski, George Mason

Zara Jillings, Fordham

Here’s how PSN’s Zachary Weiss voted:

Player of the Year: Bre Cavanaugh, Fordham

This was one of the easiest votes of the entire ballot. Cavanaugh likely was nearly a unanimous selection or darn close to it from the coaches. Cavanaugh was a workhorse leading the A-10 in points per game (19.4), free-throw percentage (87.1) and minutes played. She won or shared player of the week honors three separate times and earned double-figure point totals in the last 26 points of the regular season. Cavanaugh is not done with her third season and had 1,700 career points. Even when teams contained her, it was hard to tell because Cavanaugh was still able to produce.

Defensive Player of the Year: Kendell Heremaia Fordham

Heremaia’s 194 defensive rebounds led the conference and that comes at the guard position. Normally that is a statistic that is earned from a post player, but that was not the case this year. Most of the nominees in this statistic have one specific trait they do well from a standpoint in ranking high on the conference leaderboard, but Heremaia’s 44 steals tied her for seventh and those combined in addition to her being a key piece to Fordham’s success earned her the nod.

Rookie of the Year: Suzi-Rose Deegan, Davidson

This and the Cavanaugh votes really were the two easiest on the ballot. Deegan won A-10 Rookie of the Week seven times. She has achieved double figures in 21 games this season including nine consecutive games from Nov. 30-Jan. 12. SRD also has five double-doubles including three in a row from Dec. 29-Jan. 8. She is tied for fourth in the A-10 in points per game and fifth in rebounding while also compiling eight 20-point games.

Coach of the Year: Tori Verdi Massachusetts

Never has a team that won the regular season title earned my coach of the year nod. That is too easy and really there are too many good coaches in the conference to go that route. Verdi continues to move his UMass program forward and the team truly believes in what it does well. The addition of Sam Breen by transfer may have been the biggest move in the last year in A-10 women’s basketball. UMass has the most wins in program history since the 1997-98 season and is hosting a home game in Atlantic 10 Women’s Basketball Championship play since 1998. Shauna Green from Dayton won the award and it is deserved, but Dayton is expected to be atop the conference every year. La Salle’s Mountain MacGillivray and Rhode Island’s Tammi Reiss rounded out my top three.

Most Improved Player: Kendra Wilken Saint Louis

Wilken (11.2 ppg/7.5 rebs/48.6% FG) just edged Bazelak in this poll in what was a really tough call. Perhaps the difference was that Bazelak was a consistent starter from day one last season, while Wilken was not a consistent force when she came off the bench averaging 11.9 minutes and often times struggled on the floor. It was clear Wilken worked really hard in the offseason to make this senior season her best. Wilken’s scoring has increased by six points and her rebounds 4.4 from a season ago. It is clear she has found more of an edge in her game.

Sixth Woman of the Year: Kayla Mokwuah George Washington

There were not many that were up for this category but Mokwuah certainly was the best of the bunch. Mokwuah has top-10 A-10 rankings in field-goal percentage (7th) and blocks (t-8th). She grabbed 10 rebounds in a win @ VCU Feb. 9, while swatting four shots Nov. 17 @ Memphis. She was quite efficient against Rhode Island matching a career-high with 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting in 16 minutes. From a year ago, Mokwuah’s points have increased by 2.0 and rebounds by 1.1.

Most Improved

Kendra Wilken Saint Louis

Libby Bazelak Duquesne

Claire Holt Richmond

Coach of the Year

Tori Verdi Massachusetts

Mountain MacGillivray La Salle

Tammi Reiss Rhode Island

All-Conference First Team

  1. Bre Cavanaugh, Fordham
  2. Nicole Jorgensen Rhode Island
  3. Kendell Heremaia Fordham
  4. Hailey Leidel Massachusetts
  5. Libby Bazelak Duquesne

The logic behind these choices are as follows. Cavanaugh was player of the year, so she gets her spot. Jorgensen was the best post player of the season and Rhode Island played very effectively through her. Like Cavanaugh, Heremaia is a successful high-volume shooter but also was my defensive POY selection. Leidel helps make UMass go, she does a lot of things well and her success has made UMass a legitimate A-10 Championship contender. Bazelak earned the last spot because she has successfully led a Duquesne team all season long and done so with a leg injury. Is this a homer pick? No. In fact it is harder for Duquesne players to make teams because of how many games seen in person. A couple of seasons ago, Chassidy Omogrosso barely made my third team and Julijana Vojinovic did not make any team and both were first-team selections.

All-Conference Second Team

  1. Tera Reed VCU
  2. Suzi-Rose Deegan Davidson
  3. Davida Dale Rhode Island
  4. Jayla Scaife Dayton
  5. Nicole Cardaño-Hillary, George Mason

Reed makes VCU go and they play better with her on the court and she has active hands on the defensive end. Deegan’s accolades as a freshman were very impressive and with Sarah Donovan out for Davidson, her efforts were needed that much more. Dale really gets things done on both ends of the floor as a shooter that drives the lane and as a defender, which is an underappreciated part of her game. Scaife was Dayton’s best player, though by her standards she may have had a down year, but the Flyers finished first and deserved a spot here. Cardaño-Hillary was a bright spot for a George Mason team that largely struggled in conference play this season. She can score, in fact she leads the program in career points, scored the highest single-game point total of the season and led the A-10 in steals.

All-Conference Third Team

  1. Ciaja Harbison Saint Louis
  2. Sam Breen Massachusetts
  3. Kendra Wilken Saint Louis
  4. Jaide Hinds-Clarke Richmond
  5. Erin Whalen Dayton

Harbison had an nice follow-up to an impressive freshman season. She scores the ball and has the ability to take over games and ranks third in the conference in assists, frequently trying to get her teammates involved. Breen was an interesting case and really it was hard to figure out where to place her. Had she played a full season, she may have been A-10 Player of the Year. Ultimately, yes she was one of the most dominant players in A-10 play, but in terms of a full resume, she did not play as much as others and I did not want to penalize deserving players for that. That being said, Breen will be a Preseason First Team selection here. Wilken’s improvement is already noted above and warranted a spot. Hinds-Clarke had 58 steals as a post player which is impressive and she extended her range to the three-point line burying 21 but 10 have come in the last six regular-season games. Whalen frustrated opposing defenses down low and earned the last spot for Dayton.

All-Defensive Team

  1. Kendell Heremaia Fordham
  2. Shalina Miller La Salle
  3. Jaide Hinds-Clarke Richmond
  4. Davida Dale Rhode Island
  5. Libby Bazelak Duquesne

Heremaia earned her spot winning the DPOY award on my ballot. Miller earned a spot over VCU’s Danielle Hammond by virtue of having more blocks. She had 79 swats breaking her own single-season record set a season ago, good for a T-11 in the NCAA. Hinds-Clarke’s case is evidenced above, just doing things post players are not supposed to do. Dale had 178 defensive rebounds and earned 55 steals, securing a spot. Bazelak did a little bit of everything for a Duquesne defense which has shown improvement.

All-Rookie Team

  1. Suzi-Rose Deegan, Davidson
  2. Anna DeWolfe, Fordham
  3. Rachel Kent, Saint Louis
  4. Claire Jacobs La Salle
  5. Tori Hyduke George Washington

Deegan won my Freshman of the Year. DeWolfe very nearly earned an all-conference team spot, amassing 20 double-figure performances and shooting 41.8% from the field and 85% from the free-throw line. Saint Louis was high on Kent coming in and she did not disappoint. She was consistently on the court playing 33.9 minutes a game as a freshman averaged double-digits for points a game and shot 40.6% from three. Jacobs is a big reason why La Salle earned seven more wins and four more conference wins over a season ago. She was able to score and take over games but her turnovers were what kept her from moving higher. Hyduke earned the final spot over UMass’s Maeve Donnelly shooting 41.3% from three, consistently scored and won an A-10 Freshman of the Week award that Donnelly did not.

Sixth Women of the Year

Kayla Mokwuah George Washington

Madison Hattix-Covington VCU

Hattix-Covington saw her PPG total rise by 4.2 as part of a VCU team which placed second in the regular season. It is clear that the Rams trust her but for reasons mentioned earlier in this piece, Mokwuah got the nod.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
1 Comment
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
1 Comment
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
trackback

[…] deepest roots in Europe at this point, particularly Hungary, the home of one of its current stars, Nina Aho. It’s to the point where Burt sometimes gets players sent to him whom someone overseas […]

Our Sponsors

Buhl Agency
Conquer the Clock Escape Room
Duquesne Men's Basketball

Get PSN in your inbox!

Enter your email and get all of our posts delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured Pages

To Top
 
Like Pittsburgh Sports Now on Facebook!
Send this to a friend