MBB bests Saint Joseph’s, wins fourth straight

Peter Boettger | Layout/Multimedia Editor | Members of the Duquesne men’s basketball team gather during a stoppage in play in Wednesday’s 76-62 win over Saint Joseph’s at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse. It was the Dukes’ fourth-straight victory.

Luke Henne | Editor-in-Chief

Feb. 16, 2023

In a dominating performance from start to finish, the Duquesne men’s basketball team led for 39:05 of a possible 40 minutes in Wednesday night’s 76-62 win over Saint Joseph’s at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

The meeting was the first between the Dukes and Hawks on-campus at Duquesne since Jan. 12, 2019. Prior to Wednesday, the two teams last played in Pittsburgh on Jan. 30, 2021, at LaRoche University in what was Duquesne’s final game before moving back into the fieldhouse after almost two years of renovations.

Saint Joseph’s hung around, trailing by as few as 7 points (19-12) near the midway point of the first half, but Duquesne extended its lead to 14 points (39-24) and put the game out of reach by halftime.

“Eventually, we kind of wore them down a little bit,” said Duquesne Head Coach Keith Dambrot. “They don’t have a big bench, and we played more people than them, which really helped us.”

The Hawks utilized just four players off the bench, with 57 of their 62 points coming from starters, with two players — Lynn Greer III (22) and Erik Reynolds II (19) — accounting for 41 of those 62 points.

By comparison, Duquesne got 24 bench points from six different players, with Quincy McGriff (8), David Dixon (7) and Rodney Gunn Jr. (7) contributing 22 of the 24 bench points.

Tevin Brewer led all Duquesne players with 16 points, while Tre Williams added 13 points and a team-high-tying six rebounds.

Saint Joseph’s turned the ball over 15 times in the game. While high success at the offensive end is imperative, Brewer said that his head coach prioritizes strong defense.

“That’s his main thing,” Brewer said. “If you’re not playing defense, then you can’t be on the court. So he just stays on us daily with working hard and being there for our teammates.”

The victory was Duquesne’s 18th of the season, as the Dukes have now tripled their win total from a season ago. For players like Williams, who stuck around after last season’s struggles, it’s been a rewarding turnaround.

“Last year was definitely a tough road,” Williams said. “So coming out here and getting wins on a nightly basis, it definitely feels good.”

The win was the Dukes’ fourth in a row, and they’ve all come since the calendar turned to February. It’s the first time since the 1970-71 season that Duquesne has started February with a 4-0 mark. With the postseason lurking, Dambrot believes that his team can still be better than where they’re at right now.

“I just want this to sound right, but we can play better than that,” Dambrot said. “We’re better defensively. In the first half, we were really good defensively. Not very good in the second half. We couldn’t keep them from getting to the rim. We made a lot of mistakes. We turned the ball over more than we usually do tonight. Just unforced [errors].

“But we have a good team. We have capabilities of playing at a high level. And if we shoot the ball at a high level, we’re capable of beating anybody. And if we don’t, we’re capable of losing to anybody.”

For a program that hasn’t made it to the NCAA Tournament since 1977, Duquesne has a legitimate possibility to make its way into this year’s field, but it will have to be done by winning the conference tournament and earning an automatic bid.

“We are [built for a deep run] today,” Dambrot said. “By the next game, who in the hell knows? We just have to be consistent. We’ve become a little more consistent than we were earlier [in the season] … I think we’re scary. I wouldn’t want to be one of those top teams that play us.”

Duquesne will be back in action Saturday, when it hits the road for a contest with Saint Louis.

The Billikens (17-9, 9-4) were picked second in the Atlantic 10 Conference’s preseason poll, while the Dukes (18-8, 8-5) were picked to finish last. However, with just over two weeks to go in the regular season, only one game separates the team in the conference standings.

“I don’t have any doubt we can compete, so I don’t feel any pressure that way,” Dambrot said. “I just want to get one of those top-four byes [in the conference tournament], because if you want to win the tournament, that’s the easiest way to get it.”