SEU women’s basketball reflects on their journey, milestones as season winds down


Courtesy of SEU Athletics Communication

Isabel Hernandez is averaging team-high 15 points per game in senior season.

The St. Edward’s women’s basketball team has concluded their final scheduled home game on homecoming when the team narrowly defeated UAFS 70-65. The Hilltoppers (14-12) have two road games left before advancing to the Heartland Conference Tournament in early March.

Through many highs and lows, the season has brought many memorable moments to the program like head coach JJ Rhiel’s 100th career win, Isabel Hernandez career-high 39 point performance and freshman Sammie Dufek’s impressive potential.

Since February, Dufek has averaged 8.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in 28.5 minutes per game.  The young center is expected to have a crucial role in the team both in the postseason and in the future. The freshman describes her transition as one that consisted of many changes.

“My game has kind of changed because before [college], I didn’t really do a lot of my scoring in the post. But now, I’ve gotten really comfortable and I’ve been putting in extra work, so now I’m low post but I can still shoot,” Dufek said. “I know I’m only a freshman, but I only have three more years left, so I’ve got to enjoy it while it lasts.”

As the team looks to take on two road games, this week Riehl is hopeful that the team will come out with energy despite not playing in 10 days. Much of Riehl’s success is attributed to the emphasis she places on building relationships with players and coaches. She believes that strong relationships lead to building really good chemistry as a team.

“The kids have stayed in the moment. They haven’t gotten ahead of themselves, and we’ve had a good week of practice trying to simulate game week as much as we can with scrimmages on Thursday and Saturday,” Riehl said. We will probably be a little rusty, but I expect us to play hard with passion, energy and enthusiasm. This team is big on chemistry. We’ve overcome adversity, and we’ve been resilient because of our relationships with each other.”

Isabel Hernandez is on route to playing her final game with the program.  This being only her second year with SEU, she is very content with her time as a Hilltopper. Being a crucial piece to this year’s team, Hernandez says much of her success comes from offseason training, focusing on her mental game and conditioning.

“Last year was my very first year here, so I had to settle down and understand how to play in this culture and team and after that year, I feel more comfortable. My coach also gave me more trust and I felt more confident,” Hernandez said. “One of the things that I really focused on was my conditioning because I knew the minutes would increase and I knew I had to be in shape to succeed and … mentally staying steady.”

SEU will travel to Laredo to take on Texas A&M International and later end their season in Lubbock before heading to the Heartland Conference tournament on March 7-10.