After earning big win over Pitt, Dukes suffer tough loss to RMU

Bry McDermott | Asst. Photo Editor
Bry McDermott | Asst. Photo Editor
Bry McDermott | Asst. Photo Editor

By David Borne | Staff Writer

Less than a week ago at PPG Paints Arena, the Duquesne Dukes took down the rival Pittsburgh Panthers in what was the Duke’s biggest win in years. Tuesday night, they faced another local foe, the Robert Morris Colonials, in the same building but unfortunately for head coach Jim Ferry and the Dukes, the game ended with the Dukes on the opposite side of the upset.

“We can look at it, referencing the Pitt game and referencing this one. Don’t get too high on the wins, and too high on the losses,” Blackman said. “We have another one on Saturday. We have the day off tomorrow, have to prepare on Thursday and Friday, and try to get a W on Saturday. This one is in the past now, we’d love to win it, but can’t get it back.”

Graduate transfer Emile Blackman made the first mark on the scoresheet for the evening when he hit a three pointer to put the Dukes ahead in the game’s opening minute. Duquesne held the lead until about the 18 minute mark, when RMU big man Roberto Mantovani hit a jumpshot to put RMU ahead.

The rest of the first half followed a similar pattern, and saw a total of eleven lead changes throughout the half. The Colonials managed to hold the Dukes scoreless in the final 90 seconds of the first half, and went into halftime with a 37-33 lead.

The Colonials carried their lead into the second half, but Blackman hit another three and knotted the score at 42-42 with 15:30 left in the contest.

Duquesne went through a bit of an injury scare with 11:19 remaining as freshman Mike Lewis II had to hobble off the court with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Lewis, who has already been named A10 Rookie of the Week three times this season, was okay and returned the game a few minutes later. He finished the night with a team high 15 points.

Down 50-47 with 7:46 on the clock, freshman Isiaha Mike made his first three point shot of the evening and brought the score even at 50-50. Sophomore Nakye Sanders then hit one of two free throws to put the Dukes up by one with 6:35 left in the game.

Sanders finished the game with 11 points and 16 rebounds, his first career double-double.

Robert Morris refused to go down easy in the program’s first game at the PPG Paints Arena, and took a 55-51 lead after a pair of buckets from guards Kavon Stewart and Isaiah Still. The Dukes regained the lead after an Isiaha Mike layup but the boys from The Bluff on top 57-55 with 2:07 left.

Again, Robert Morris found themselves on top 58-57, but Lewis II hit a layup with 30 seconds left in the game to put the Dukes up one but Duquesne couldn’t hold their lead. An Isaiah Still bucket with 15 seconds left, followed by four straight RMU free throws, had the Dukes down 64-40 at the buzzer.

Blackman mentioned that while the loss to a now 3-7 RMU team is a disappointment, it is important to remind the young roster to put both big wins and disappointing losses behind them, and to focus on upcoming games.

In a good number of Duquesne’s losses this season, turnovers and missed free throws played role in the defeat. The team turned the ball over 16 times, and shot only 9 of 19 from the charity stripe.

The loss dropped Duquesne’s record to 4-6, and the team will host Central Connecticut on Saturday. With A-10 play starting in just a few weeks, the Red & Blue will try to find a way to get beyond some of the early season mistakes that have plagued them, before taking on strong A-10 opponents.