MBB rolls past South Carolina State at home

Peter Boettger | Staff Photographer | R.J. Gunn (right) celebrates with Kareem Rozier (left) after Gunn's first-half buzzer beater.

Spencer Thomas | Sports Editor

Nov. 17, 2022

Duquesne earned its second win of the season with a shooting percentage barely south of 50 against South Carolina State on Monday.

The Dukes coasted by a 96-71 score, thanks to 10 first-half rebounds from Austin Rotroff, and a perfect shooting performance from Tre Clark.

While also leading the team in scoring, Dae Dae Grant also proved to be a competent facilitator. His six assists led the team and were double what he accumulated over the games against Montana and Kentucky.

“If we share the ball more, we’ll get better shots,” Clark said.

Six days after his fellow guard Dae Dae Grant shot perfectly from the field against Montana, Clark accomplished an identical feat, going 6-for-6 from the field on his way to 13 points in the victory.

“My main goal is to just go out there and do whatever the coach needs me to do to win and just play hard,” the senior said.

After missing the majority of last season with an injury, Rotroff came off the bench to dominate the glass. He set a career high in rebounding in the first half alone, and finished with 11, with five being offensive boards.

“Just go in, get as many rebounds as I can,” Rotroff said. “I know it may seem like a little statistic, but especially offensive, it creates extra possessions and that’s just one thing I know I can keep consistent every night.”

Duquesne Head Coach Keith Dambrot was impressed, but not surprised at the performance.

“He’s rebounding at a clip that is unbelievable,” Dambrot said. “He played that was last year. I don’t think it’s a fluke. I just think he found his niche.”

A demonstration of Dambrot’s depth could be seen at the five spot in the first half. Starting center Joe Reece picked up his second foul less than three minutes into the game, and was pulled from the court. In his place came freshman David Dixon. Soon after checking in, he brought the student section to its feet with a flashy put-back dunk. Rotroff also impressed as a big, picking up a pair of blocks to accompany his domination of the glass. Reece did not play again in the first half, yet Duquesne remained competitive in the paint. Upon his return out of the break, Reece once again made his impression by immediately getting a pair of close-range baskets.

“Our margin of error is 100 times better than it was [last year],” Dambrot said, “We’re going to end up being a pretty good team before it’s over.”

Once again playing with a large lead, Dambrot was able to play with different lineups of players on the court. Only Clark and Grant played more than half of the minutes in the game.

“We’re still in search and discover mode, trying to figure out the right combinations, because we have a lot of guys,” Dambrot said.

R.J. Gunn was blasting from range, hitting a trio of tree-pointers to compliment his four boards. Despite acting as depth on the glass, Dambrot didn’t rule out the possibility of moving Gunn to the three-spot.

Fourteen different Dukes saw minutes in the victory, with 11 playing double-figure minutes and 13 scoring.

Dambrot laughed as he read aloud the scoring distribution up and down the lineup.

“It’s the craziest 96 I’ve ever seen in my life,” Dambrot said. “And it takes a special group of guys to accept that, cause guys like to score.”

It was the highest scoring total for Duquesne since they put up 101 on La Salle in January 2018, during Dambrot’s first season at Duquesne.

The Dukes will get back in action on Friday, as they take on Colgate at the LeBron James Arena at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio.

The school is where Dambrot coached for three seasons. It’s also the alma mater of Duquesne Associate Head Coach Dru Joyce who played for Dambrot at St. Vincent-St. Mary.