David Borne | Staff Writer
With just under 14 minutes to play in Duquesne and Richmond’s Jan. 24 matchup, the Dukes found themselves in a position that they haven’t been in all season. The Dukes were down, significantly, in the second half of a game at the Palumbo Center.
Things went from bad to worse when a Duquesne turnover at mid-court resulted in a Richmond 2-on-1 fast break that resulted in an emphatic Grant Golden putback jam, which increased the Spiders’ lead to 16.
Golden apparently wasn’t satisfied with the highlight reel dunk, and for whatever reason, decided to shove Duquesne freshman Eric Williams Jr. following the play, resulting in a technical foul. Williams Jr. remained calm after the play, but the shove sent the Duquesne crowd into a frenzy.
In a game where the Dukes came out of the gate a bit sluggish, Duquesne built off of the play and the crowd’s reaction. It was pretty evident that the play pumped up Keith Dambrot’s squad, and even junior guard Tarin Smith admitted that Golden’s shove inspired the entire team.
“Think it just kind of woke us up a little bit. We were lacking energy a little bit, so I think when that happened it woke the crowd up, woke the whole arena up, and woke us up as a team offensively and defensively,” Smith said.
“I don’t know what the score was at the time, but I think we definitely went on a run after that. It shouldn’t take a play like that to wake us up, we have to be better than that, but I definitely think it jump-started us up a little bit,” he added.
Duquesne sent Mike Lewis II to the line to take the two awarded free throws, and the sophomore knocked both down. The Dukes managed to get a stop on the following Richmond possession, and a Williams Jr. bucket cut Duquesne’s deficit to 12.
Eric Williams Jr. wasn’t done yet. The freshman followed up with the Red & Blue’s next seven points, and Duquesne’s comeback effort was in full force. Finally, with some scoring help from Tarin Smith and Chas Brown, a Williams Jr. layup knotted the score at 52-52 with 7:44 on the clock.
The teams went back and forth for the next handful of minutes, with a career-scoring performance from Richmond sophomore Nick Sherod keeping the Spiders in the game. The comeback was capitalized with a Mike Lewis II three-pointer with just over 30 seconds left to play that put the Dukes up 66-65 with just 32 seconds on the clock, but the Spiders were not done yet.
With the game on the line, Richmond decided to not put the ball in the hot hands of Sherod, but instead for the man of the hour, Grant Golden.
Battling a thundering cloud of boo’s from the Duquesne supporters, Golden knocked down a shot from inside the paint, drawing a foul in the process. His free throw put Richmond back up by two, and Duquesne had 15 seconds to tie the game.
The play drawn up was for Tarin Smith, and a layup from the junior knotted the score at 68-68 sending the Dukes to a third-consecutive overtime game at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
Unfortunately for Duquesne, the earlier momentum seemed to run out, and a tired Duquesne team struggled in the additional period. The Spiders held Duquesne scoreless for the final 2:39 of overtime, and behind five more points from Sherod, Richmond came out on top by a score of 77-73.
Sherod finished the night with a game-high 28 points, six more than his previous career best.
It was a valiant comeback effort and one that everyone in attendance certainly enjoyed, but the seemingly burned-out Dukes couldn’t pull out a win and suffered their first loss at the Palumbo Center since a 78-71 loss to Cornell on Nov. 27.
Mike Lewis II finished the night with 13 points, but shot just 3-17 from the field. Rene Castro-Caneddy had a tough shooting night as well, wrapping up with only two points, shooting 1-11 from the field.
Next up for Duquesne comes the undeniably best team in the Atlantic 10 this season with a trip to Kingston, Rhode Island, to take on the Rhode Island Rams on Jan. 27. Ranked No. 24 in the latest AP Poll, the Rams sit comfortably at the top of the of the Atlantic 10 standings with a perfect 8-0 record.
Shaking off a tough loss like Wednesday night’s is a task in and of itself, but Duquesne will need to take advantage of the next few days to get some much-needed rest and clear their minds. If they don’t, it will be quite the challenge to pull off an upset; let alone, even keep Saturday’s contest close.