Three minutes remained of a game in which the outcome had been decided, so why was everyone clapping?
Simple, Erin Waskowiak was back on the court.
Not many dry eyes remained when the guard replaced Conor Richardson for the remainder of the game.
The fans and Duquesne bench alike gave a deserving ovation for a player who fought for two years just to return to the game she loved.
Seven seconds later, Waskowiak was able to get her first collegiate rebound. Her three was off the mark, but that did not deter her.
Waskowiak was able to feed Eniko Kuttor for an open jumper, her first assist.
As the seconds dwindled, the Dukes had one possession remaining and coach Dan Burt immediately pointed at the Bishop Canevin product. She fought through several surgeries, an ACL injury which was a disappointing setback an months of frustration. The least she deserved was the ball. This was her moment.
With the entire Bishop Canevin women’s basketball team among the friends and family in attendance, Waskowiak drove to the basket and earned a foul call.
Waskowiak later admitted she was extremely nervous and would miss both free throws.
Regardless of this, Waskowiak could say she made a score sheet for the first time in her collegiate career.
Guard Deva’Nyar Workman described the emotion she felt for Waskowiak.
“I wanted to cry. I’m really close with Erin, so seeing her out there and knowing what’s she’s gone though, she’s been working hard to get back,” she said.
Szamosi spoke for her teammates and to an extent the fans in attendance when discussing Waskowiak.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment for so long, and I think it’s just a lifting experience for everyone to have her back because of how we have the strong bond as a team,” Szamosi said. “She’s very important to all of us.”
Hopefully Waskowiak is proud of herself. It takes unbelievable strength to reach some of the lowest lows yet turn it into a positive and refuse to quit on her dreams. She did just that and did so admirably.
Now, it is time to turn the page and focus on basketball. There still is a season and Waskowiak still has a lot to play for.