Matthew Theodros | Staff Writer
The Duquesne men’s basketball team’s four-game winning streak came to an end in their 72-59 loss against Davidson on Wednesday night at Cooper Fieldhouse.
Wednesday’s victory gives Davidson a commanding 12-1 record against Duquesne dating back to their arrival in the Atlantic-10 Conference prior to the 2015-16 season.
Following one of their best wins of the year at Rhode Island on Saturday, the Dukes looked sluggish, especially on defense and did not build off their momentum when the offense helped them chase an early deficit.
Shooting a below average 32% from the field and 14% from three, Duquesne’s first half offensive inefficiencies dug them in a hole they were unable to come back from.
Jake DiMichele and David Dixon led the Dukes in first half scoring, combining for 19 of the team’s 25 points. Their aggressive attack in the paint provided a necessary scoring punch for a team whose offense stagnated.
They finished with a season low in first half assists with a single assist coming from sophomore, Kareem Rozier. Davidson’s aggressive defense especially on drive and kicks prevented any attempt for a perimeter based attack that helped Duquesne beat Rhode Island on Saturday.
Davidson took a 35-25 lead heading into the break.
Head Coach Keith Dambrot praised Davidson’s grit and integrity which played a big role in their road win.
“Their style is unique,” Dambrot said. “If you don’t have good discipline defensively they will slice you up.”
Fousseyni Drame’s effort in the second half helped cut Davidson’s lead of 15 down to just 4. He was 3-of-5 from 3-point range, including a 4-point play, and brought Duquesne down 53-49 with just over six minutes to go.
Despite an impressive comeback, Davidson capitalized on the swing plays, grabbing vital offensive rebounds and outworking Duquesne on the fast break. Casual mistakes prevented the Dukes from getting over the hump.
Drame and DiMichele led the Dukes in scoring, each adding 15 points. Dixon was the only other double-digit scorer for Duquesne with 10.
“Once you’re down 13 or 14 your margin of error gets smaller and you have to make every play,” Dambrot said. “We got it to four then we didn’t make every play. It looked like we blew up every two minutes.”
It was a frustrating night for the guard tandem of Clark and Grant who combined for an abysmal 3-of-16 on field goals. Their struggles on both ends forced Dambrot to utilize other rotations without the star guards.
“They just had a bad night,” Dambrot said. “It’s not just them, it was the entire group. I have complete faith in those guys, they just didn’t have it tonight.”
Dambrot found success in running bigger lineups, ditching the traditional guard based rotation. The five-man lineup of Rozier, DiMichele, Drame, Jakub Necas and Dixon provided a needed defensive edge.
“When Jimmy and Dae Dae were off we were better,” Dambrot said. “It’s just one of those nights. Jimmy was minus-22. You are not going to win many games when Jimmy goes minus-22.”
In the final seconds of the game, Davidson’s Grant Huffman drove to the rim, where Clark met him with a hard foul that sent the Wildcats’ leading scorer to the ground in pain. Clark was ejected from the game for the foul.
The frustration was evident from the players heading into the locker room. Coach Dambrot emphasized what is needed from the team considering their lackluster performance, especially on the defensive end
“A difficult game requires tremendous discipline defensively,” Dambrot said. “Clearly, we didn’t have very good discipline defensively except for one group. We went back to the beginning where we didn’t share the ball very well. We didn’t guard, and so that was the problem. They grinded us out. They made us guard the whole possession and we had a hard time with it.”
The Dukes head back on the road, Saturday to face St. Bonaventure.