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September 21, 2023

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Women’s basketball season ends, still season to remember with memorable moments

In sports there are good teams who have good seasons and then there are great teams that have special seasons.

This year’s women’s basketball team falls into the category of a great team who had a special season.

What makes a team great? Duke head men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski says it best I believe.

“There are five fundamental qualities that make every team great: communication, trust, collective responsibility, caring and pride … Any one is individually important. But all of them together are unbeatable,” Krzyzewski said.

Before the run to the quarterfinals of the WNIT you could argue that the Falcons were already having a special year going 26-5 and 13-0 at home. Some of the moments that happened this season for this team though, make you sit and wonder who is writing this stuff.

It started with the Falcons first game of the season, a 63-52 win in New York against The University of Michigan. This game was just the start of an eye opening year from point guard Jillian Halfhill as she scored 18 points and shot 50 percent from the floor. Also it was a great BG season debut for NC State transfer Erica Donovan as she scored 15 points on 5-9 shooting.

Guard Deborah Hoekstra then jumped in on the action as she finished the last six games of the non-conference schedule as hot as humanely possible. She averaged 14 points a game and shot 58 percent from the field, including 56 percent from behind the arc. Included in those six games were two 19 point games against The University of Massachusetts and University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

As Mid-American Conference play started and Hoekstra cooled off we began to see senior forward Alexis Rogers cement herself as a MAC player of the year candidate. No performance was bigger than the 24 points and seven rebounds she had at home against Eastern Michigan to give her 1000 points for her career. She was later named First Team All-MAC.

Fellow senior Jillian Halfhill was just as impressive. Although she was second on the team in scoring and led the team in assists, it was not her stats that made her standout. Her ability late in games to find a way to will her team to a victory is what made her special. You can’t talk about that ability without mentioning her game-winning layup against The University of Akron to give the Falcons the outright MAC regular season championship. She also landed on the First Team All-MAC list.

You take all of that and it is easy to miss that we may have seen two underclassmen turn into superstars right before of our eyes. Miriam Justinger and Donovan have imprinted themselves in the Falcon fans minds for good after the year they had. Donovan stood out early in her first year as a Falcon with her game against Michigan. In the second round of the WNIT Donovan stepped up once again scoring 22 points in the win over St. Bonaventure.

Justinger may have showed glimpses last year of being a superstar, but this year they were more like photos. She had a gift for coming up big when her teammates needed her most. No run more special than in the first round of the WNIT when she scored 22 points and followed that with 17 in the second round.

While Roos and the coaching staff will soon begin to prepare for next year, this year will not be soon forgotten by anybody. This was a special year, a special group and has been a special postseason run and those only come around once in a while.

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