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Duquesne Women's Basketball

Inside The Dukes: Dukes Trying To Battle Through Injuries and Lack of Depth

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Much like their male counterparts, the Duquesne women’s basketball Team has been hit hard by the injury bug and has been trying to find itself through the non-conference schedule.

Duquesne is currently without the services of Halle Bovell, Diamond Bragg, Amanda Kalin Lauren Waslyson, all of whom have started at the collegiate level, in addition to freshman guard Olivia Westphal.

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Additionally Laia Sole returned to the court in the team’s previous game at Tulsa but is working her way into playing shape. The same can be said for Libby Bazelak who missed time in the offseason.

In Sunday’s 60-47 victory over Lafayette, seven players played at least 13 minutes, with Snezhe Serafimoska and Natalija Sekulovska earning some trust with additional time on the court.

Duquesne coach Dan Burt concedes that his team is banged up and in the fourth quarter was hanging on, as the Dukes that are healthy work on getting in better game shape.

For the time being, it appears that Duquesne will primarily go with a rotation of six which consists of Bazelak, Amaya Hamilton, Precious Johnson, Megan McConnell, Tess Myers and Fatou Pouye, at least until Sole catches up as experience is proving to be a determining factor.

“It’s a puzzle I’ve never had as a head coach,” Burt said.

For those who currently are healthy, but seeing little-to-no playing time, Burt stated the best thing to do was to fight and focus on the little details, such as catching the ball and dribble handoffs, where shoulder are pointed to the basket and attacking the paint is a primary focus.

Basically, Burt stated that playing hard can help overcome a lot.

Duquesne came off a challenging road trip with two losses against UCF and Tulsa, during which the Dukes ran out of gas toward the end of the opening game and saw the on-court standard drop in the second quarter when Precious Johnson got in foul trouble against the Hurricane.

Sunday, there were individual pieces the fit the puzzle, where various players would carry the load at certain times, but there were flashes where Duquesne showed championship form whether it was a 16-0 run to open the game, holding Lafayette to two three-point baskets or repeatedly executing offensive sets properly.

“Statistically it is not a great win, but it’s a very good win from a team standpoint that needs confidence and needs to continue to grow,” said Burt.

MCCONNELL CHANGES GAME

Towards the end of his press conference, Burt had a bone to pick with McConnell.

“She should’ve had 16 or 17 (rebounds),” Burt complained in jest. “I’ll have to get on her.”

By game’s end, McConnell had to settle for 13 rebounds, a career-high. She had already set that personal best before halftime as her previous high mark was six.

“Our biggest thing is pushing the ball in transition,” McConnell said. “I know if I can get the ball and push it in transition, then we have a better chance of scoring. I think we’re our best when we’re in transition so I just try to get the ball and push it to get an easy shot.”

Heading into last season, the plan was to redshirt McConnell, who received increased playing time due to injuries and soon enough earned a starting nod.

Now a sophomore, McConnell is a leader on this team and with Duquesne’s goal of winning an Atlantic 10 Championship established, it is on her shoulders to help guide this team to achieve that.

Prior to Sunday’s contest, Burt challenged the guards to rebound and McConnell certainly led by example, which included her 13th and final rebound which caught the ninth-year coach’s attention.

“Meg is that pest you don’t want to play against, because she just makes you angry,” said Burt. “She’s always around the ball and snipping at you. In the locker room I said that the one defensive rebound, I had never seen a McConnell jump that high. I’m sure I will get a phone call or a text message from a McConnell tonight about that.”

POUYE PUNCHES BACK

Thursday’s setback was a game to forget for Pouye as she recorded five turnovers and did not make a shot from the field, but instead of getting down, her desire to

Pouye battled foul trouble, which reduced her minutes, but was still able to lead all scorers with 18 points in 14 minutes of play.

“The thing they used to tell me all the time was to go up strong and not try to do too much,” she said. “The coaching staff is doing a good job of telling us what we could be better at… I feel like I listened and I could see a result.”

In the fourth quarter, Pouye and Sole for three consecutive Duquesne baskets on high/low action, with the Dukes bench loudly applauding each score.

Pouye wanted to credit Sole for finding her way and then making the entry pass in. Pouye believed her job was easy, just catching the ball and placing it into the basket.

Burt gave a quick nod offensive coordinator Rick Bell for making an adjustment and sensing that the action could be addressed, but was even faster to credit those on the court.

“That is a situation where the players have to execute and Laia did a very good job and so did Fatou,” said Burt. “Early on in the first two games, Fatou was shooting shots off one leg and was trying to avoid contact. That is not really part of what her game is. She was able to go off two feet later in the game and that makes a big difference.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker

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