Adam Lindner | Sports Editor
Jan. 30, 2021
Marcus Weathers posted his second-straight double-double and Mike Hughes recorded 12 points to help Duquesne to a 67-50 victory over Saint Joseph’s on Saturday night at La Roche University’s Kerr Fitness Center.
Duquesne (6-6, 5-5 Atlantic 10 Conference) led by as many as 25 points in the win over the hapless Hawks (1-14, 0-9 A-10), whose 50 points were a new season low.
Weathers, who entered the game as the Dukes’ leading scorer (13.7 points/game), tallied a season-high 24 points and added 12 rebounds to pace coach Keith Dambrot’s team. The redshirt senior shot an efficient 8-for-16 from the floor and hit all six of his free-throw attempts.
The win gives Duquesne a 7-2 all-time record at Kerr Fitness Center — a venue the team has been using as a makeshift home ever since renovations began on its on-campus arena 22 months ago.
It was announced by the school earlier this week that the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse — formerly the A.J. Palumbo Center — is set to open Feb. 2 for the Dukes’ game against the Dayton Flyers (10-4, 6-3 A-10). The game, which is set for a 9 p.m. tip-off time, will be televised nationally on ESPNU.
Winners of two straight games and three of its last four, Duquesne is suddenly beginning to find its groove after a rocky start to the campaign.
The Dukes played two non-conference matches before going an entire month without a game due to COVID-19-related postponements and cancelations. Then, three starters left the team (guards Sincere Carry and Lamar Norman Jr. transferred, while wing Maceo Austin stepped away from the program for personal reasons), leaving Duquesne in a precarious position.
Now — just as the Dukes are preparing to inaugurate their newly-renovated on-campus gym — the team is beginning to rediscover its mojo.
“You can see us playing better,” Dambrot said postgame. “We’re in better shape. We still have some conditioning issues — that’s why we were a little bit erratic in the second half — we have to get in better condition yet.”
Duquesne led 40-17 at halftime against the Hawks, who utilized a full-court press in the second frame in an attempt to cut into the deficit. The Hawks’ press sped the pace of the game up — and Saint Joe’s actually outscored Duquesne by six in the second half — but their efforts weren’t enough to make the game truly competitive.
The win puts Duquesne eighth in the A-10 standings ahead of its Tuesday showdown against the Flyers, who topped the Dukes in Dayton on Jan. 13, 72-63.
Dambrot, now in his fourth season at the helm of the team, said the renovation’s completion is a major step forward for the program.
“I think [the players are] going to be super excited when they see this place,” Dambrot said. “It’s an unbelievable place.
“Listen, I don’t give out compliments very easily. … It’s high-level. I think people will really be thrilled with it once they see it.”
The coach went on to have friendly banter with athletic director Dave Harper, who was standing nearby.
“He damn near killed me in the process, keeping me out of the gym for two years,” Dambrot quipped.
Harper stepped in to reassure everyone: “He’ll be alright.”
“I didn’t have a bald spot when I came [to Duquesne in 2017]. I didn’t have any gray hair. My wife used to talk to me,” Dambrot joked. “No — that’s a joke — she still does.
“It’s been a hard deal, but it’s gonna be really worth it. And I think Duquesne basketball will be on firm footing for a long time because of it.”
- Duquesne held the Hawks to season lows in both points (50) and shooting percentage (28.3%)
- The Dukes, who entered the game averaging 13.5 giveaways, turned the ball over a mere six times on Saturday evening, tying the least amount of turnovers a Dambrot-led Duquesne team has had during his tenure
- Duquesne assisted on 17 of its 26 field goals
- Duquesne guard Ryan Murphy, who did not travel with the team for its Jan. 27 win at Fordham due to a “death within his inner circle,” dressed for the Dukes on Saturday, but did not see the court
- Guard/forward Maceo Austin, who last played Jan. 5 against Davidson, was present but did not dress for Saturday’s game
- Weathers’ double-double was his third this season and the 14th of his career
- Saturday’s game was the second time all season that Duquesne played less than 10 players (a Jan. 23 loss to St. Bonaventure was the other)
- Freshman guard Mike Bekelja started for the second game in a row and posted three points, six rebounds and three assists in 26 minutes
- Duquesne’s first three A-10 wins came by a combined seven points; its past two conference victories have been by a combined 41 tallies
- Weathers, who entered Saturday’s game shooting 57.4% from the free throw line in conference play, hit all six of his attempts from the charity stripe against Saint Joe’s
- Duquesne’s Feb. 2 game against Dayton will be its first on-campus game since a 78-67 loss to the Flyers on March 9, 2019