Jacob Hebda | Staff Writer
Duquesne faltered in its final game of the regular season, losing to Richmond, 73-62.
The Dukes entered the night with their hopes of a coveted double-bye in the Atlantic 10 Tournament still alive.
Those hopes were shot down by 29 missed field goals and 15 missed free throws. Duquesne finished 21-60 and 10-25 in each category, respectively. As Keith Dambrot said after the game, that is not a winning formula.
He quoted legendary basketball coach Bob Huggins, asking, “Who the hell you gonna [sic] beat … if you can’t put the ball in the basket?”
Tavian Dunn-Martin, Baylee Steele and Marcus Weathers were really the only bright spots on a sour night overall.
Dunn-Martin posted 17 points, including four made three-pointers. Steele, meanwhile, drained three from behind the arc and had 12 total points.
With nine points and 14 rebounds, Marcus Weather continued the strong play that earned him all-conference second team honors.
Beyond that trio though, it was not pleasant to watch.
Sincere Carry had arguably his worst game of the season, as he went 2-10 from the field.
Lamar Norman Jr. drilled two three pointers in the first half but was held scoreless in the second and finished 2-10 on field goals as well.
Maceo Austin made some impressive hustle plays but did not manage to score a single point.
Richmond consistently beat the Dukes on cuts to the rim. The Spiders dominated down low, outscoring Duquesne in the paint 40-18.
By all accounts, it was an ugly way to close the season.
Nevertheless, the Dukes remain optimistic as they prepare for the A-10 tourney.
As Steele said following the game, “We still have a lot of season left… but I still think we have to put it all together.”
Duquesne will be the sixth seed, meaning they receive a single bye. They will face the winner of George Washington and Fordham.
They defeated Fordham in both matchups between the teams this season but split their two games with George Washington.
The Dukes are by all means an underdog in their conference tourney. Granted, the same can be said of everyone else besides Dayton.
The Flyers enter the postseason on a 20-game winning streak. If they win the A-10 Championship, they should be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
So, to put it simply, the odds are stacked against the Dukes.
Dambrot is well aware of the circumstances. He knows the probability of his team earning an automatic bid is slim, but he still thinks it’s possible.
When asked about the conference championship, he remarked, “Nobody in the world thinks we can win the tournament… I’m fighting for respect.”
Dambrot inspires confidence with his words, but in reality, this will probably not be the year Duquesne breaks their 42-year streak of missing the Big Dance.
Nonetheless, this has been an impressive year for the program.
When he arrived three years ago, Dambrot inherited one of the most maligned college basketball programs in the country. Now, for the first time in a long time, the Dukes are respectable.
At 21-9 overall, Duquesne had one of its best seasons in recent memory.
The 20-win milestone is one only reached two other times since 1980. With 11 A-10 wins, the Dukes set a program record.
By all accounts, the was a season defined by striking progress.
Momentum has been building for a while now, and the Dukes look poised to grab it.
The narrative for the better part of the last four decades was how far off Duquesne was from the NCAA Tournament. At the very least, that has changed. The thought of the Duquesne playing in college basketball’s biggest tourney is no longer a delusion.
This year’s team is maddeningly mercurial. Some nights they play well enough to give Dayton a run for their money. Other nights, they shoot 40% from the free throw line.
But they’re a 21-win team, and they accomplished that without a true home court.
Dambrot has revamped the program. There’s genuine excitement around this team.
Stay patient, Dukes fans. Your day will be here soon enough. It could even come next week at the A-10 Tournament.