By Adam Lindner | Asst. Sports Editor
On the heels of a five-game losing streak, Duquesne’s men’s basketball team returned home to the A.J. Palumbo Center for its lone home game in 20 days on Wednesday night when it hosted St. Bonaventure.
In a tremendously sloppy affair for both sides, the Dukes fell to the Bonnies, 71-64. Turnovers plagued the Dukes yet again in a game that saw them turn the ball over 20 times, which ties the second-highest total on the season. The most turnovers the Dukes have committed this season was against Dayton (22) on Jan. 14, the team that they are set to face next in a tough road test on Saturday, Feb. 4 at 12:30 p.m. in Dayton, Ohio. The game will be televised on NBCSN.
“I think we showed our youth,” head coach Jim Ferry said. “You hold a team like that to 1-13 from three, you should give yourself a chance to win the game. Those two guards are dynamic, and two of the best guards in the league,” speaking of SBU’s high-scoring tandem of Jaylen Adams and Matt Mobley.
While the Dukes did do an admirable job limiting Adams offensively (4-17 from the field, 16 points, five turnovers), Mobley was able to shoot 50 percent and finish with 22 points on the night. However, the Dukes’ own struggles offensively are what truly inhibited the team.
“I think [turnovers] played a huge role tonight,” said freshman guard Mike Lewis II, who led Duquesne offensively with 20 points. “You know, I think we went through a time in the first half where we were kind of stagnant, like we didn’t want to make a mistake, and it turned into us making a lot of mistakes.”
A lot of mistakes, indeed. The first half saw the Dukes turn the ball over 15 times, which the Bonnies took advantage of, scoring 18 of their 33 first-half points off of turnovers.
While the Bonnies scored the majority of their points off of Duquesne turnovers, a large quantity of Duquesne’s first-half points came at the free-throw line. A bevy of turnovers by both teams and a tightly-officiated game resulted in an offensively stymied first-half.
The game did start to gain some momentum about 12 minutes in when Mike Lewis II hit back-to-back three-pointers from the left side of the court, but neither team could really control the pace of play as neither team could hold on to the ball. The Dukes took a 34-33 lead into halftime following Rene Castro’s trey as the last seconds of the half dwindled down.
The Bonnies came out of the break strong and grabbed control, going on an 8-0 run through the first four minutes to stake a 41-34 lead which resulted in a Duquesne timeout at 16:05.
After struggling to muster many quality shots against Bonaventure’s long 1-3-1 zone, the Dukes would then go on a 10-3 run to bring the score to 50-46 with 11:09 remaining, thanks in large part to three straight baskets from graduate transfer Emile Blackman.
The game ebbed and flowed from that point on, with Duquesne coming as close as trailing 62-58 with 4:23 remaining following two free throws by Rene Castro. However, the Dukes would miss their next six shots from the field en route to a 71-64 defeat.
Asked about remaining confident, Emile Blackman replied, “There’s a lot of season left.”
“We’re practicing tomorrow. Watching film, watching tape. Last game we came out flat against [Dayton], and we just know we have to come out and have a better first half, and a better second half, and play an entire 40 minutes,” Blackman said.
“There’s not anybody on our schedule who we don’t think we can beat. We’re going through a rough patch right now, but like I said, there’s a lot of season left. We just [have] to continue to play basketball.”