NEW ORLEANS (March 7, 2017) — The Dillard University Lady Bleu Devils made an appearance in the 2017 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament on March 3-5 but were defeated by Xavier University of Louisiana in the semifinal round Saturday.
Even so, the team ended its 2016-2017 season with a record of 19-9, leading second in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference with the record of 9-3, after last year’s 9-17 season. In his congratulatory email Monday, Dr. Walter Kimbrough, university president, noted that this is the best record for the women in more than a decade; in 2003-04, the team was 27-6.
“Next year, we’re winning the championship,” he predicted.
Head women’s basketball coach Norbert Rome said, “Last year’s season was a disappointment because we didn’t live up to expectations. But now we’re back on track. We have set goals and a plan. We put the plan into action and set the motion of being successful.”
The team played in the opening round of GCAC against the Lady Knights of Southern University at New Orleans, defeating them 70-60. Advancing to the semifinals, the Lady Bleu Devils battled against the Xavier Gold Nuggets but fell short as they lost 61-53.
The Lady Bleu Devils defeated crosstown rivals Xavier Gold Nuggets in the Bleu Devil Classic 69-64 on Feb. 18 in the Battlefield. In the remaining three games of the season, the ladies defeated Texas College 71-40, lost 67-58 against Stillman College and came back to defeat Tougaloo College 76-59.
Rome said the key to success this season was to make sure the team was stronger than ever. He said he had biweekly “sit-downs” with each player to talk and learn about each other: “It helps the team to grow and build a better relationship so that they player harder.”
The team including new team members such as guards Chelsea Verrett of New Orleans; Adriana Williams-Swim, Vallejo, Calif.; Kia Smith, Lithonia, Ga.; Daizha Norris, Houston; and Lauren Taylor, Rosharon, Texas. Forwards include Makeedah Collins, Houston; Tracey Mwenesi, Bungoma, Kenya; and Alexia McDonald, Petal, Miss.
As the season is over, the team will part ways with two graduating seniors: point guard Shantrell Lumar of Baton Rouge and forward Keona Favis of Shreveport.