Crusaders notch first conference victory: Women’s basketball adapts and battles their way back

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Junior forward Michelle DeCoud pulls up against the Centenary College of Louisiana defenders during their first victorious game of the season. University of Dallas Photo.

It’s been a gut-wrenching start to the conference season for the University of Dallas Women’s basketball team, but they were finally able to get their first Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) win on Saturday, Jan. 14, in Shreveport, La., against Centenary College of Louisiana.

While they have posted a 7-3 non-conference record thus far, the Crusaders began conference play with four tough losses, losing by five, eight, six and five points respectively, with the eight point loss coming in overtime against Southwestern University after Southwestern made a free throw to tie it up with two seconds left in regulation.

On Friday, Dallas traveled up to Sherman, Texas, to take on the Austin College Kangaroos, one of the best teams in the SCAC. The game was a layup line mismatch; even during pre-game, warm-ups Austin College’s size and talent stood out.

The Crusaders began the game poorly, trailing 0-5 with two turnovers in less than two minutes. The deficit felt even larger as Head Coach Greta Grothe took a timeout almost immediately.

Despite trailing for much of the game and by some large margins at different times, Dallas showed a lot of fight, continually battling back when they fell behind. They were finally able to take their first lead of the game at 6:15 of the third quarter after senior forward Seana Stoia hit a three-point jump shot, and freshman guard Celsi Caraway extended the lead to three on the very next possession, Dallas’ largest of the game.

The Roos would quickly jump back in front, but the Crusaders never went away, even regaining the lead on a jumper from junior forward Michelle DeCoud with 3:29 left in the game. Austin immediately responded with a three-pointer, however, and Dallas was never able to get the lead back before ultimately falling 59-64.

“I thought we played well at times, but some mental mistakes down the stretch cost us the game,” Grothe said.

The next night the Crusaders traveled to Shreveport looking to get back in the win column. They looked good early on as senior guard Caitlyn Worry drained three three-point shots in the first quarter to give Dallas a quick 15-6 lead, but Centenary looked a little like the Crusaders from the night before, battling back to take a 33-31 lead into the half.

The Crusaders kept fighting, however, and got a big second half from DeCoud, who dropped 34 points — 25 coming in the second half — as well as pulling down 15 rebounds and four blocks.

“Michelle has been our most consistent player from the floor, so late in the game we went to her and she took care of business,” Grothe said.

It certainly felt good for the Crusaders to improve to 1-4 in conference play.

“I think it shows that we’re growing, learning and adapting,” DeCoud said. “We aren’t getting discouraged by our losses. Losing isn’t fun but we can hang with the teams we are playing; it’s just the small things that we need to tighten up on in order to have success.”

Grothe was similar in the message of growth following the win.

“I thought we grew from Friday’s game to Saturday’s game,” Grothe said. “Down the stretch we slowed the game down and learned from our mistakes on Friday and came out with the W.”

“[It] was fun because we didn’t lose our heads,” DeCoud said. “We were calm and executed when we needed to. We just need to keep that poise in the other games we play.”

The Crusaders return home to take on Schreiner University on Friday, Jan. 20 at 5:30 p.m., followed by another home tilt with Trinity University on Sunday, Jan. 22 at 12 p.m.

 

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