By Adam Lindner | Asst. Sports Editor
On a special night that saw Duquesne great Mike James have his No. 13 jersey retired by the school, the game against Fordham was anything but special.
In Duquesne’s previous meeting with Fordham (13-15, 7-8) – a 75-72 win in Bronx, NY on Dec. 30 – the Dukes (10-18, 3-12) out-rebounded Fordham by 27. Tonight, the Red & Blue were out-rebounded by 12. Being heavily outplayed on the boards, partnered with tough shooting nights for key cogs Mike Lewis II, Tarin Smith and Emile Blackman, resulted in a painful 70-52 Dukes defeat.
Graduate forward Kale Abrahamson provided a bright spot for the Dukes as he led them with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting, followed by 12 from freshman Mike Lewis II. As a team, the Dukes only shot 2 of 14 from 3-point land and a meager 59.3 percent from the charity stripe.
The game lacked any real offensive flow from the jump, as both teams turned the ball over fairly frequently. A stingy 1-3-1 Fordham zone to start constrained the Dukes early, subsequently causing numerous turnovers, missed shots and fouls that all resulted in a slowed game.
“The biggest key for us going in… was against this team you’ve got to limit your turnovers, and you’ve got to rebound the basketball,” head coach Jim Ferry said after the contest. “I thought we let our offensive woes affect us defensively.”
Fordham showed varying defensive sets throughout, and never allowed Duquesne to settle into a flow on the offensive end.
“Just a tremendous amount of credit [to Fordham] defensively for what they’re doing right now,” Ferry said. “They just held three Atlantic 10 teams to basically under 50 points… They held Rhode Island to 43, held Saint Louis to 40, and they held us to 52, so you’ve got to give them all the credit in the world defensively.”
The Red & Blue would shoot a solid 47.1 percent (9 of 17) from the floor in the first half, but only shooting 17 field goals in the first half is indicative of a slowed pace, and a deficiency of shot attempts can be attributed largely to the nine costly turnovers and a lack of second-chance points.
Fordham didn’t do much to distance themselves until they capitalized on a multitude of Duquesne turnovers in the latter part of the half to take a 32-26 lead into the break.
Fordham would come out of the halftime break and hit two consecutive three-pointers to take a quick 38-29 lead, extending their lead to nine.
Though Fordham had seemingly seized the momentum a quarter of the way through the second half, strong inside play Abrahamson would result in back-to-back layups and an optimistic outlook for Duquesne.
After playing a truly energized few minutes of basketball, Abrahamson rebounded the ball, but then threw an errant pass to Mike Lewis II that would result in a demoralizing Fordham three to expand the lead to 50-37 and damped the spirits of those in the building.
Fordham’s foul trouble provided an opportunity for the Dukes, but they never really took advantage.
The rest of the contest would prove to be trivial as Fordham left the A.J. Palumbo Center with a commanding conference win.
Up next, the Dukes will face St. Bonaventure on the road Saturday at 4 p.m. In the previous matchup at the A.J. Palumbo Center, the Bonnies left with a 71-64 victory over Duquesne.