MBB splits first two games of road trip

Peter Boettger | Layout/Multimedia Editor | Rodney Gunn Jr. — pictured here on Jan. 4 — scored 26 points in Wednesday’s win, the highest mark of his Duquesne career.

Spencer Thomas | Staff Writer

Jan. 12, 2023

Having played just two road games all season, Duquesne entered a three-game road trip around the Atlantic 10 Conference by splitting contests with Richmond and Saint Joseph’s, punctuated by RJ Gunn’s two best performances in a Duquesne uniform.

On Saturday, the Dukes traveled to Richmond to face the Spiders, the reigning conference champions.

The two teams battled through a close contest for the first 10 minutes, but Duquesne was able to break the game open with a torrid shooting streak late in the first half. The team connected on 12-straight shots, as well as nine consecutive 3-pointers, leading by as many as 22 with just under 4 minutes until halftime.

Richmond liked to drift inside on defense, giving the Dukes plenty of uncontested shots from long range. Duquesne favored its odds against that game plan, particularly Gunn, who shot 4-of-8 from beyond the arc on the way to a season-best 16-point game.

However, Richmond was able to find its legs, and climb back to within 15 before halftime. The Spiders continued their momentum after the break, and were able to shut down the Dukes’ offense. Duquesne emerged from a 5-minute scoring drought with their lead down to just 2 points less than 10 minutes into the second half. Richmond leveled the game at 56 moments later, bringing the sellout crowd of over 7,000 fans to a frenzy.

Duquesne Head Coach Keith Dambrot was then able to reinvigorate his squad and, despite blowing a 25-point lead, they went blow-for-blow with the Spiders until the final horn.

Tevin Brewer connected on a close-range shot with 21 seconds remaining, giving the Dukes a 73-72 lead. Accompanying a season-high eight assists, Brewer had his best night as a Duke within his grasp.

But, on the ensuing possession, Richmond swung a pass to star guard Tyler Burton, who connected on a 3-pointer with 7 seconds to go.

Brewer and Kareem Rozier each missed shots at the buzzer, and the Dukes lost their tangle with the Spiders 75-73.

After a dramatic and disheartening loss in Richmond, Duquesne bounced back to beat Saint Joseph’s 92-80 on Wednesday. Gunn was locked and loaded from the opening tip, and rode his hot hand to a perfect first-half performance. He shot 7-of-7 from the field, 4-of-4 from beyond the arc and entered the locker room at halftime having scored 19 points, already eclipsing the season-best performance he had achieved just four days prior.

The Dukes flew away from the Hawks with another offensive assault in the first half. They entered the second half with a 60-44 lead. They continued to pick the Hawks apart with rapid passing until an open look emerged. They carried a 16-12 advantage in the assist column into the half and finished with a 24-19 mark in the category.

The fast-paced and high-scoring game enabled Dambrot to employ the depth on his bench, with nine different players scoring. Brewer was the only scoreless Duke, but was tied with Rozier for a team-best six assists.

Duquesne once again slowed down in the second half, but was still able to disrupt Saint Joseph’s offensive cohesiveness. Gunn finished with 26 points. Joe Reece added 18 points of his own, while Dae Dae Grant (17) and Jimmy Clark III (11) also scored in double figures for the Dukes.

Gunn’s emergence has come in the wake of an empty slot in the starting lineup. Forward Tre Williams missed both games with an ankle injury, which he suffered last week in practice.

Duquesne will play one more road game Wednesday against St. Bonaventure before returning to UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse to take on Fordham on Jan. 21.