Heading into Tuesday’s game against Akron, the Duquesne Women’s Basketball Team is 1-4, after a City Game loss Saturday to Pitt.
Duquesne had a chance for a knockout punch of sorts in the second quarter up seven points and frustrating Pitt to the point that Rita Igbokwe was assessed a technical foul. Instead of capitalizing, Duquesne missed both free throws and shots on the next two possessions as Pitt worked its way into the lead.
Ultimately, Pitt would win against a shorthanded Duquesne squad by a 69-64 count.
“We have to grow from those growing pains and I believe we will,” Duquesne coach Dan Burt said. “Will it stick with me, you better believe it will and it should stick with our players for the remainder of the year.”
Duquesne’s shorthandedness was not just due to injuries, but also with fouls as Precious Johnson was limited to 10 minutes, picking up two whistles in the opening 2:32 and could not get in a rhythm. Additionally, Libby Bazelak and Laia Sole each committed four fouls and teammates Tess Myers had three in her own right.
“We had a few plays where I know I did it once and a few other people did it where we let them go for easy layups and we can’t have that, so I’ve got to stop fouling up top with the two-hand touches,” said Bazelak. “We have to be better with that because we need our players in at the end of the game.”
The other aspect that determined this City Game was the early stages of the fourth quarter where Pitt went on an 8-0 run. Pitt was being the clear aggressors and defensively dared Duquesne to settle for jump shots which it did not convert. When Duquesne attempted to fire three-point shots, some did not connect with the night in the final 10 minutes.
Burt believed that Duquesne was good in finding success out of its rub action formation, but when it went into things it found more success than being play-call reliant, which is what Duquesne had become.
“We weren’t able to get inside very much,” Bazelak said. “I think that’s what they wanted, they were giving us pull-up jumpers, letting us shoot. We weren’t knocking down as many shots as we would like but we do need to get into the paint, get those paint touches and then open up the three a little more.”
Burt repeatedly took the blame for Duquesne not succeeding Saturday when he took to the postgame press conference.
Blame aide, Duquesne now is at a 1-4 mark Burt has not experienced, which is hard for him seeing the program had never started the season in that fashion. From the beginning, Burt has stated that Duquesne will not be a finished product in neither November, nor December and that has proven to be correct.
Like Burt, Bazelak is used to winning and doing so at the highest level, so to quietly sit and explain where the team is and at the same time illustrate an optimism she feels can translate into the rest of the season.
“It’s really tough,” she said. “We’ve struggled a little bit because I think last year we were a little used to losing which is not acceptable. We started off this year a little bit that way and we changed and we’re going to make a change. We lost this one, but I think we played with a lot of heart.”
BOVELL RETURNS TO THE COURT
It was 762 days before Saturday’s City Game when graduate student guard Halle Bovell was told her leg injuries were severe enough that she would never again play the sport she loved.
Bovell was told no and decided she did not like that, ultimately taking action for a journey which got her back onto the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
“Halle’s one of my best friends and having my injuries, you don’t really see how much work people put in,” Bazelak said. “She’s put in a ton of work and she stuck with us, been there on the bench for everyone and just worked so hard. It’s really good to see her out on the court again.”
Bovell did not score in Saturday’s contest and played for 93 seconds, though it is abundantly clear how much she will contribute on the defensive end as she gets to appear in more games. When she first started against Dayton on Feb. 10, 2019, it was a move that paid dividends as the Flyers could not match her defensive intensity. Bovell would start 9 of the last 10 games that season.
“Halle doesn’t accept losing is someone that is going to find minutes,” Burt said. “She’ll be an important part as we move forward because she can defend and doesn’t miss assignments. She knows every play from every spot, and is an older kid that gets it. She has a lot of pride and had been a part of a lot of success. We have a very youthful team who have not played a lot of games.”