Women’s Basketball Season Preview: Dillard Lady Bleu Devils

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The Dillard University women’s basketball program struggled in 2019-20 but DU is looking to make a return trip to the NAIA Tournament after earning a bid following the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns.

Norbert Rome has had winning records in three of the last four years, notched two 20-win seasons and has turned the program around under his tutelage.

The Lady Bleu Devils were among the 20-stingiest defenses when defending beyond the arc, as its .276 three-point field-goal percentage allowed was one of the NAIA’s lowest marks.

Dillard’s plan to bounce back is centered around the play of returning sophomore Diniaa McZeal plus the senior duo of Paige Williams and Makeedah Collins.

McZeal was voted GCAC Freshman of the Year last season as she torched the net from downtown to the tune of the tenth-best three-point average in the league (1.39) and a top-15 total triple count of 39.

Williams had a breakout campaign in 2019-20, finishing sixth in the GCAC for field-goal percentage (.381), seventh in double-doubles (4) and eighth in steals per contest (2.04) while averaging 12.75 points a night.

Hunter was the most reliable rebounder for the blue and white, placing sixth in the league with 233 boards for the seventh-highest average of 2.73.

DU will welcome two division one transfers to the Dent Hall sidelines in Destiny Collins and Rayah Haynes while Sydni John-Baptiste fronts the incoming freshman class.

Collins made five starts in 67 games over three seasons for Nicholls State, posting 4.5 points and 1.4 rebounds a game as well as 64 assists, 40 steals and 21 threes for the Colonels.

Haynes was the second-leading assister for the McNeese Cowgirls last year with 64 dishes. Over her two seasons in Lake Charles, she put together 3.9 points, 1.8 assists and 1.4 rebounds per game with 32 steals in 45 appearances, including 18 in the starting lineup.

John-Baptiste competed in 64 games for Shadow Creek High School’s varsity squad, compiling 6.3 points and 4.2 boards on average.

The blue and white’s non-conference schedule consists of home-and-homes with Mobile, William Carey, LSU-Alexandria and Loyola-New Orleans (RV).

2019 Record: 10-20 (4-10 GCAC)

2019 Finish: Seventh Place (Lost GCAC Quarterfinals)

Head Coach: Norbert Rome (Eighth Season / 101-93 Overall, 46-45 GCAC)

Top Returners:

  • Diniaa McZeal (So, G, Gonzales, La.)
  • Paige Williams (Sr, G/F, New Orleans)
  • JaQuanna Hunter (Sr, F, Vacherie, La.)

Key Players Lost:

  • Jabria Pounds (Top-20 in GCAC in steals and blocks)
  • Gabrielle Harrington (3.7 points per game / 1.4 rebounds per game / 34 assists / 24 steals / 14 three-pointers)
  • Makeedah Collins (3.0 points per game / 2.4 rebounds per game / 21 assists / 14 three-pointers / 12 steals / three blocks)

Top Newcomers:

  • Destiny Collins (Nicholls)
  • Rayah Haynes (McNeese)
  • Sydni John-Baptiste (Shadow Creek HS)
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