PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) — Robert Morris (7-2) added one more win to its best start in school history as they defeated the Duquesne Dukes (5-4) 64-60 Tuesday night—beating the Dukes in back-to-back years for the first time since the ’83-’84 season.
“They made the plays down the stretch and we didn’t. You have to take your hat off to them,” said Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart.
It was a back-and-forth game throughout, with 11 lead changes and 116 shots taken between the two teams, whose campuses are less than 20 miles apart.
The Dukes and Colonials are quite similar on paper, except for few minor things that are all relative, like scoring average and opponent scoring average, in which both teams have an advantage. There was no category that exceeded a margin of five other than rebounding, where the Colonials are plus six on the season and the Dukes are minus 10. In such a case one would have to conclude that tonight’s 22nd matchup between the two teams was one that would have to be won with will—and as it turns out, foul shooting.
Duquesne shot just 46.2 percent from the line, going 6-13 while Robert Morris missed just three of their 18 attempts. Sean Johnson, who has only missed four of his 42 free throws this season, missed both technical foul shots.
Rebounding margin was even tonight, and although the Dukes grabbed 17 offensive rebounds to the Colonials 13, Coach Everhart noted that the key difference was that Duquesne would kick the ball out after a rebound, whereas Robert Morris took advantage of their second chance opportunities and kept the ball under the hoop for easy lay-ins.
The Colonials had two runs on Duquesne, a 9-0 run in the first half, and a 7-2 run in the last two minutes of the game.
After a layup by Eric Evans, who led the team with 16 points, to put the Dukes up 56-51 with under five minutes to go in the game, they would be outscored 13-4 the rest of the way. Sean Johnson’s drive to the hole with 14 seconds to go brought the Dukes within one, but the Colonials leading scorer on the season, Velton Jones, who finished with 13 points and five assists, knocked down two free throws, putting his team up by three.
Evans, who had already made three shots from beyond the arc on the night, had a look at the hoop with seconds to go, but it didn’t come close.
“He got a good contest in. I thought I rushed it, but you know, I can’t look back on that. We have to get ready for our next game coming up—Penn State, another good team, “ Evans said.
Robert Morris junior center, Lijah Thompson had a game-high 17 points, one of four Colonials players scoring in double digits, and four blocks. Russell Johnson added 15 points and nine rebounds, while Anthony Myers added 10, including the 3-pointer that started the 13-4 run.
For the Dukes, B.J. Monteiro had 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Coming off of a career-high, 11-rebound game against Tennessee Tech, Andre Marhold grabbed 10, while sophomore swingman Jerry Jones grabbed seven in his 19 minutes of play—the most he’s seen all season. Sophomore guard T.J. McConnell had a game-high eight assists.
Johnson, who is Duquesne’s leading scorer with 17.9 points per game finished with just four and fouled out in the final seconds.
Both teams average around eight steals per game. Duquesne and Robert Morris force 16.5 and 19.3 turnovers respectively, but the teams were significantly under those averages last night.
“You see teams on TV all of the time, they beat a team from a higher league and all of the sudden they’re jumping up and down and celebrating. Well, we have an expectation that we can go out and compete and if we do what we’re supposed to do, win games like this—we just have to continue to do it on a consistent basis, we can’t wait 27 years to beat Duquesne back-to-back—if we’re going to stake our claim as one of the best teams as a mid-major in college basketball,” said second year Robert Morris head coach, Andy Toole.
In case you wanted to know…
- Dukes lead the series matchup, 15-7 and this is only the second time they’ve lost at Palumbo in the nine games they’ve faced Robert Morris at the venue.
- Robert Morris is currently in first place in the Northeast Conference.
- Duquesne takes on Penn State (6-3) at Consol Energy Center on Saturday, December 10th at 7PM before they are back on the road against Western Michigan and George Mason.
The Aly Way