Bird Hunting: Dukes cruise past Hawks, 66-56

Brentaro Yamane | Multimedia Editor | Dave Dixon recorded a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds on Saturday afternoon.

Spencer Thomas | Sports Editor

Duquesne got back in the win column on Saturday afternoon, knocking off Saint Joseph’s 66-56 at Cooper Fieldhouse.

It was sweet revenge for Duquesne, who lost their first matchup with the Hawks in January on a last-second shot. There was no such drama this weekend.

As it has been lately, Duquesne’s defense was inevitable, and they were eventually able to ride it to victory.

“We hold teams under 60. That’s our brand of defense,” said center David Dixon. “We try to beat them up on the inside and outside. They’re not going to get easy buckets on us.”

Without their 7-foot star Christ Essandoko, Saint Joseph’s leaned on the long ball, shooting 21 3-pointers in the first half alone.

In response, Duquesne went with a smaller and more fluid lineup for most of the first half.

“Everybody thought we were set on rotations, but I spoiled that for everybody tonight just to keep you guys on your toes,” Head Coach Keith Dambrot joked after the game.

Despite Essandoko’s absence, Saint Joseph’s dominated the glass by snatching offensive rebounds on nearly 40% of the shots they missed in the first half. Had they been able to take advantage, Duquesne may have been in more trouble. They only managed 2 second-chance points on 10 opportunities in the first 20 minutes. Between that and SJU’s 3-of-21 performance from 3, Duquesne felt that their first half lead should have been much bigger.

Duquesne left a lot of points on the board early missing several short-range shots that could have helped them grow the 22-14 lead they built as the Hawks struggled from distance. Instead, they slogged through a low-scoring first half and led 31-23 at the break.

To the Dukes’ credit, they didn’t get bogged down in a 3-point track meet with the Hawks. They only shot nine in the first half and made five of them.

“You’re not winning any 3-point contests with them,” Dambrot said. “What I told our guys at halftime is ‘look, you’re playing with fire,’ because we allowed some open looks that they didn’t make.”

The second half was more of the same, but Duquesne broke it open after the 10-minute mark, when Jakub Necas and Dixon hit their fifth and second 3-pointers of the season, respectively.

Despite the abnormal long ball, Dixon spent most of the afternoon treating fans to his normal prowess in the paint. He threw down four roof-raising dunks on the way to a 17-point double-double. It was the first of his career, and it warranted a postgame Gatorade shower in the locker room.

“He’s a high-quality player,” Dambrot said. “When he gets 17 and 10, we’re going to win a lot of games,”

The win moves Duquesne to 5-7 in league play after their 0-5 start.

Duquesne returns to Cooper Fieldhouse on Tuesday evening, when they host last-place Saint Louis.