PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) –The six minute scoring drought in the first half by the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (3-4), combined with Duquesne’s 12-3 run within the first four minutes of the second half and Sean Johnson’s career-high 25 points helped lead the Duquesne Dukes (5-3) to their 77-67 win in the two teams’ first ever meeting.
“We let them make too many runs on us. I think we had some lapses, some stretches where we didn’t play hard, so we just have to put it together for 40 minutes,” said Duquesne senior guard B.J. Monteiro, who finished the game with 18 points, seven rebounds and not an empty space in his stats line.
Although they didn’t score their first point until the 15:44 mark, switching from a 2-3 zone and a man matchup in the first half, the Golden Eagles, who returned four of their starters from a 20-win season last year, and 90 percent of their offensive production, managed to disturb Duquesne’s offensive flow.
“We stood around and looked at it. We haven’t seen one in a couple of games and we stood and looked, we didn’t get after it right away. That was a big factor. I really thought that’s what changed the game in their favor, in terms of having the momentum in the first half,” said Dukes head coach Ron Everhart.
Even though the four-point deficit at halftime didn’t reflect it, Tech was beating Duquesne in their own game in the first half. The Dukes had nine first half turnovers, two below their total game average for the season, and Tech scored nine fast break points to the Duke’s zero. Duquesne finished the game with 15 turnovers.
At the start of the second half Duquesne hit four field goals and four free throws in a row.
“I just thought we had a greater sense of urgency on the defensive end. That was one of those situations where we turned our defense into offense,” said Coach Everhart.
Tennessee had three turnovers in the first three minutes of the second half.
Ten players from both teams saw playing time, with Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Player of the Year, senior guard Kevin Murphy leading Tech with 18 points. Junior guard Jud Dillart, who leads the OVC in rebounds this season, added another 14 points and eight rebounds. The Golden Eagles continued their poor shooting from three-point range shooting just 6 for 21.
Johnson, continuing his efficient play, scored on 8 for 12 shooting, drained all seven of his foul shots and grabbed six boards for Duquesne. Senior guard Eric Evans was perfect from the line as well in his five attempts, and totaled 11 points and five assists. T.J. McConnell also had 10 points on the night.
Andre Marhold had a game-high 11 rebounds for Duquesne, who finished only their second game on top in rebounding margin, 37-33. Tennessee still was able to grab 13 offensive rebounds.
The Dukes shot 50 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from beyond the arc, their best three-point shooting performance this season.
Each game proves to be a learning experience and a chance to improve for the Dukes. The challenge comes in adjusting after every game, half or play.
“We only forced 14 turnovers tonight which is low for us. We didn’t get after it like we normally do, and I think that number in and of itself kind of shows that our sense of urgency, effort, intensity on the defensive end that we normally have, we did not have as much of tonight,” Coach Everhart said.
Despite some areas of needed improvement, the Dukes did pull out the victory last night. Whether it’s learning from mistakes or recognizing successful approaches, it always seems more enjoyable to do so when you win.
In case you wanted to know…
- Freshman guard, P.J. Torres did not dress for the game. He’s suffering from a sprained big toe and is expected to be out for about a week.
- The Dukes entered the game shooting just 30 percent from three ball.
- Duquesne did not score a field goal in the final 4:16 of the game. Their last nine points came from free throws.
- Over the past five seasons, the Dukes are 25-5 in non-conference home games at the Palumbo Center.
- Duquesne takes on Robert Morris on Tuesday, December 6th at home at 7PM.
The Aly Way