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Duquesne Basketball

Duquesne Snaps Losing Streak with 55-49 Win over George Mason

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For a span of seven games, dating back to Dec. 11, the Duquesne women’s basketball team battled unsuccessfully against its opponents, but Sunday afternoon, the Dukes were able to win a 55-49 road contest at George Mason.

Duquesne (3-8, 2-5 Atlantic 10) was led by senior guard Libby Bazelak, who was making her third appearance and second start of the season, with her 18 points.

“To not play as long as we have and to have all the other assortment of interesting adventures along our journey this year, it’s good to have a win,” Duquesne coach Dan Burt said. “It’s good for our players in that locker room to feel what winning is again and not coming up a little short, like we’ve had a lot this year. We’re hoping this win will propel us forward.”

It is no secret that Duquesne has experienced success under Burt, but this season has provided difficulties for everyone, though some have handled that better than others.

In Duquesne’s case, it was without Bazelak, and Amanda Kalin suffered an injury Jan. 3 at Dayton, which she has not returned from. Additionally, Duquesne lost another starter in Halle Bovell for the season before the campaign could begin, and the same can be said for Aniya Walker.

Duquesne also was without Kiersten Elliott, Precious Johnson and Anie-Pier Samson for both contests with the first two serving as starters for part or in Johnson’s case all of the season.

The uncertainty has affected Duquesne in a variety of ways, except for one noteworthy area.

“We’ve been in the end zone a lot in my career and you’ve got to know how to act when you’re in the end zone,” said Burt. “We didn’t go into the locker room and spray water on each other or dump a Gatorade cooler because when we play we expect to win. It’s been a tough month or two for us, but we hope to get back to that end zone on a regular occurrence as we finish up the regular season.”

THREE POINTS

. It seems clear how much of a difference Bazelak’s return has made, as she played 39 minutes at George Mason less than two days after a 32-minute effort at George Washington.

Throughout the season, Duquesne has been engaged in several close contests, but have experienced struggles with consistently finding ways to successfully close games.

Duquesne not only closed out George Mason, but also defensively limited the Patriots to one basket in the game’s final five minutes.

Coincidence? Burt does not think so.

“Our efforts in other games where we’ve lost close battles have been a scenario where we didn’t have upperclassmen leadership and when you don’t have arguably the best point guard in the Atlantic 10 that’s really going to affect you, especially when the experience around you is very limited,” he said. “We’re taking every thing step-by-step and the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We won the last three quarters and had a scenario where we finished the game and we finished that game with Libby Bazelak, our leader, leading us.”

. The pandemic has hit Duquesne hard as everyone has had to overcome adversity but none on the team may have had more than Ny Langley who scored 10 points Sunday and according to Burt had her best game with the program.

Given the team had 26 days between games, Burt used everyone available to him with all but one player seeing the court for both weekend contests but no one took more advantage than Langley who also face guarded George Mason’s Rachel Balzer down the stretch to prevent her from making another game-changing three-point basket.

“Ny has had adversity that is much different that I won’t address but is significant. We’re just happy that she is able to move on from that. I think the basketball court is her safe place and we’re happy with how she performed today. She doesn’t really have to think when she is on the basketball court but she is an intelligent player. The best basketball for Ny is ahead of her and hopefully the tragedies and some of the adversity she has had for the last two years are over.”

. There is a reasonable possibility that Duquesne will attempt to make up at least one of its eight postponed contests, though no official announcement has been made.

According to an A-10-issued press release, Duquesne was scheduled to have multiple contests against Dayton, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis and St. Bonaventure.

Geographically Duquesne could feasibly bus to all of these locations besides Saint Louis. Duquesne was at Chaifetz Arena a couple of days before the contest was cancelled due to COVID-19.

“I know the Atlantic 10 is making every effort in their scheduling to find additional dates for everyone to play, especially teams like Duquesne, Saint Louis and Saint Joseph’s,” Burt said. “I anticipate a phone call tomorrow or Tuesday with scheduling opportunities. What that will be who knows? It’s still 2020 to me and it is a year of chaos and craziness. We’re going to make it the best that we can, embrace it and enjoy it.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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