Chinwe Duru has scored in double figures in the past three games. For the junior, it took understanding her role on the Tulane women’s basketball team to get to this point.
“Last year, you could say I was a bit more hesitant. I didn’t know what my role was,” she said. “This year, I’m starting to understand what I can do on the floor. That’s what’s been helpful, and being able to attack the basket and know that, in a one-on-one situation, I can be the dominant player going against my defender.”
She’ll try to keep it going when Tulane (17-5, 8-3 American) hosts Temple (11-12, 7-3) at 11 a.m. Saturday in Devlin Fieldhouse.
In Tuesday’s 84-60 win at SMU, Duru got her first start since a Dec. 6 win at Arkansas-Little Rock. Against the Mustangs, she scored 11 points.
“I just do what’s asked of me pretty much,” Duru said. “Mentally, I just know I have to bring my ‘A’ game and I have to be prepared to do what’s needed and whatever’s asked and to help my teammates out.”
For Tulane coach Lisa Stockton, Duru’s confidence has aided her play, which certainly has been an asset.
“I think Chinwe’s playing her best basketball of her career here,” Stockton said. “Defensively, she’s a presence inside. She’s difficult to guard offensively. Just playing with a lot of confidence; this is the Chinwe I knew that could happen. These last four games, I think she’s been a major force for us. She wants the ball. She’s been rebounding, so it’s really made us a different team.”
With seven regular-season games left, including a Feb. 17 game at Temple and two against powerhouse Connecticut, Duru welcomes the competition since it gives her and her teammates a chance to challenge themselves.
“Just knowing that it’s going to be a good stretch of good competition, it just makes me excited to know that I’m going to be playing against some pretty good teams so I can show what I’m made of,” she said.
While Duru and others coming off the bench have been a boost, the goal of an NCAA tournament berth is still salient, especially for the team’s four seniors.
“Definitely our biggest thing is we really want to go to the (NCAA) tournament. Striving for that goal since conference began has definitely kept us going and making sure we get these wins,” forward Tiffany Dale said. “Us seniors talk every day about how we want to go out our senior year, doing something that we’ve never done.”