Spencer Thomas | Sports Editor
Duquesne returned to the winning column on Friday night, beating the Rider Broncs 77-58 at Cooper Fieldhouse. They finally got a win versus a team from New Jersey, having suffered their first loss of the season to Princeton on Wednesday.
It was an ugly start. Both teams combined to start 10-of-32 from the field, and the Dukes only led by 3 halfway through the first half. At that point, no player had made multiple field goals, and most concerningly, senior guard Dae Dae Grant continued to struggle after a disappointing game on Wednesday. At that point, the 3s started falling. He got a 3-point play, which was followed by a Rozier bucket from long range, and a Grant 3.
Just like that, the Dukes had broken free from the 1-2 Broncs, and would enter halftime with a 37-22 lead.
After a 1-of-6 performance against Princeton, Grant finished six-of-12 from long range on Friday and led all scorers with 23 points.
“It was just a product of repetitions,” Grant said of the turnaround. “I was feeling it tonight.”
His recovery mirrored that of the entire team, who were able to bounce back after a huge letdown in losing to Princeton.
“This game was supposed to be a bounce back game,” Dixon said. “I want this to be only loss we have in [non-conference play].”
On defense, the Dukes gave up a season low in points and blocked 12 shots. David Dixon and Halil Barre protected the rim expertly. Each finished with four rejections.
“I take it upon myself to be that anchor the team needs in the frontcourt,” Dixon said.
It looks like the forward is finally finding form after missing all offseason due to knee surgery.
“How great we can be will become will be determined by how we can score the ball inside,” said Head Coach Keith Dambrot. “And who’s gonna do it.”
Dixon also sees his potential noting a big way he can fill out the offense in the future.
“I want to work on being a better post player,” Dixon said, “So that my teammates like Dae Dae, Jimmy and Kareem don’t have to fight to get buckets, they can just go to me.”
Fousseyni Drame was held to a season-low 4 points, but demonstrated his versatility by leading the Dukes with 10 rebounds.
Rider’s 22 first-half points were the fewest Duquesne has given up in a half since their victory over George Washington on Feb. 4.
The win moved Duquesne to 4-1 for the second consecutive season, but Dambrot remains unsatisfied.
“We’re about 60 percent of what we can be,” Dambrot said. “We’ve got a long way to go.”
After a stretch that saw Duquesne play three games in five days, they will only play once before Nov. 29.
Duquesne will play their first true road game next, when they travel to Nebraska to face the Cornhuskers on Wednesday night.