James Leo | Staff Writer
Jan. 16, 2019
Heading into Wednesday’s game, the Dukes were 10th in the nation in opponent 3-point field goal percentage, at just over 27%. This didn’t seem to matter once the game tipped off on Wednesday night.
Duquesne pulled out a 58-56 win over the Fordham Rams on Wednesday Night at PPG Paints Arena, despite the Rams shooting 40% from beyond the arc.
Early on, the Dukes jumped out to a 18-9 lead, thanks in part to 12 quick points from sophomore Lamar Norman Jr.
Their defense was also disruptive. Duquesne entered Wednesday ranked sixth nationally in blocks, at 6.4 per game. Junior Michael Hughes was ranked seventh nationally in blocks, at 3.13 per game. He altered several shots early, and even blocked four.
However, Fordham quickly found their groove, making four of their first six 3-point attempts. So, despite shooting 36% from the field (7-14 from 3-point range) in the first half, the Rams were able to make up ground. By the end of the first half, they held a 30-27 lead.
The start of the second half featured more of the same. Duquesne played stellar defense, but Fordham’s 3-point shooting kept them in the game. Norman Jr also continued his hot shooting, scoring Duquesne’s first six points of the half.
But, as the skies cleared outside, so too did they in the game. After Norman’s 3-pointer made it 36-33 with 17 minutes left, Duquesne and Fordham would go scoreless for the next six minutes, missing a combined 11 shots.
Fordham’s once stellar 3-point shooting had turned cold; they missed five of their first six 3-point attempts to start the half.
A dunk by Hughes with eleven minutes left in the game broke the cold streak, making it 36-35 Rams.
However, Hughes was whistled for a technical foul on the dunk (for hanging on the rim), and the ensuing free throws gave the Rams a 37-35 lead.
About a minute later, Hughes converted a timely 3-point play to give Duquesne their first lead of the second half.
From this point, the lead was as ever-changing as the possession arrow. They would trade the lead six times in a matter of five minutes. A Marcus Weathers 3-point play late in the half extended Duquesne’s lead to five.
It seemed as though Duquesne was pulling away — until they weren’t. A 3-pointer by Ty Perry brought the Rams within two (51-49) with just over a minute left. Then, a jumper from Fordham’s Onyi Eyisi tied the game at 51 with 23 seconds left.
With a chance to take the lead, the Dukes turned the ball over with four seconds remaining. Thankfully, a Jalen Cobb miss at the buzzer sent the game into overtime.
The lead continued to flip-flop throughout overtime. A layup from Baylee Steele with a minute to play put Duquesne up 56-53.
Then, with 40 seconds left, Perry tied the game at 56 with a highly-contested 3-pointer. After a Fordham foul, Baylee Steele made one of two free throws to give Duquesne a slim lead.
The Rams, with a chance to take the lead late, turned the ball over. An intentional foul put Sincere Carry on the line; he would make one of two. Fordham’s last-second heave was no good, and Duquesne left with a win.
This game may seem familiar to avid fans of Duquesne. Last year, Duquesne lost a sloppy game to another A-10 opponent, St. Bonaventure. In that contest, both teams struggled to get going, just like in Wednesday’s contest.
Despite the close finish, coach Keith Dambrot was not disappointed with his team’s performance.
“At the end of the day, a win’s a win’s a win,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how you win at the end of the year; nobody cares about that.”
Weathers was just as enthusiastic about his team’s performance.
“We weren’t concerned at halftime, and neither was Dambrot,” Weathers said. “He didn’t yell at us, he just gathered us up and encouraged us. Even though we knew it wasn’t our best performance, he kept us in check.”
Looking ahead, the Dukes have a short road-trip ahead; they travel to Rhode Island on January 22, and then to Massachusetts on the 25. These games can be streamed
After that, Duquesne arguably faces their toughest competitor yet: Dayton. Ranked No. 13 nationally, Dayton will come to PPG Paints Arena on January 29. Duquesne will look to show how far they have come this season, by (hopefully) defeating their fellow A-10 rival.