MBB falls to Davidson, drops 13th in a row

Peter Boettger | Staff Photographer | Duquesne’s Tre Williams is helped off of the court after sustaining a knee injury in the first half of Wednesday’s loss to Davidson. Williams scored five points and posted two rebounds prior to the injury.

Luke Henne | Sports Editor

Feb. 24, 2022

Behind a game-high 27 points (6-of-9 from 3-point range) from Hyunjung Lee, Davidson cruised to a 74-50 win over Duquesne on Wednesday evening at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

The Atlantic 10 Conference victory, which pitted the Wildcats and Dukes against one another for the second time in nine days, helped Davidson retain sole possession of first place in the conference. The Wildcats pushed their A-10 record to 13-2.

On the other side, Duquesne has now lost 13 games in a row and remains buried at the bottom of the conference standings with a 1-13 record in A-10 action.

The Dukes kept it close in the first half, trailing by just three points (36-33) at halftime. However, Davidson put its foot on the gas in the second half, outscoring Duquesne 38-17 to turn a competitive game into a victory of 20-plus points.

“They [Davidson] know how to play the game the right way,” said Duquesne forward Kevin Easley Jr., “Their coach [33rd-year head coach Bob McKillop] is a legend. He has them playing at a great pace.”

Easley led Duquesne with 16 points. Tyson Acuff put up 15 first-half points for the Dukes, but was held off the scoreboard in the second half.

“It’s been a struggle this season,” Acuff said. “We’re trying to just progress slowly, take it step-by-step and not hit home runs, take it one hit at a time.”

Acuff said that it’s “frustrating” to try and improve the little things when the results aren’t showing in the win-loss column.

“We’ve got a group of patient guys. We’re all frustrated at the outcome of this season right now,” Acuff said. “As a leader, I’m trying to keep everybody’s head up and be the positive guy around.”

With 1:02 left in the first half, Duquesne big man Tre Williams went down with a right knee injury. He was unable to walk off on his own power, but returned to the bench on crutches during the second half.

“When it rains, it pours. We had no chance once he [Williams] gets hurt,” Dambrot said. “ … It doesn’t look good. I don’t think it’s necessarily bad, but I don’t think he’ll play [for the rest of] this year.”

The Dukes have lost seven straight games at the fieldhouse, having not won a home game since Dec. 11, when they narrowly edged New Hampshire.

For a team that was decimated by the transfer portal this past offseason, Dambrot suggested that although the results aren’t showing, the locker room culture is in a better place.

The response came just one night after Sincere Carry, who transferred from Duquesne to Kent State, scored 42 points for the Golden Flashes. Players like Lamar Norman Jr. (transferred to Western Michigan and averages 19.7 points/game) and Tavian Dunn-Martin (transferred to Florida Gulf Coast and scored 43 points on Wednesday) are also thriving elsewhere.

“There’s no question I overcorrected [when building this season’s roster],” Dambrot said. “I still think I did the right thing by morals’ and ethics’ standards, but I hurt myself, and I hurt our school, and I hurt our team. So, I overcorrected.

“We had too much [expletive] that went on [with teams in previous seasons] and I had enough … ”

Duquesne will be back in action when it takes on Rhode Island at the Ryan Center in Kingston, R.I., on Saturday afternoon. The game will be nationally televised on USA Network.

The Dukes have won three of their last four games against the Rams overall, but have not won a road contest against Rhode Island in their last three attempts (last win came on Feb. 15, 2014).

“I went into the season thinking we could reboot it [the program] in one year and be pretty good, and then I tried to keep patching it,” Dambrot said. “And, at some point, you realize you’re not going to be good. So you might as well take a two-year reorganization business plan rather than a one-year [business plan]… ”