PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)– Although the sun had already set by the start of last night’s game, Duquesne (6-4) pulled out the 66-59 win over Penn State (6-5) in the teams’ 43rd matchup, with a night and day effort from the first half to second half, led by two Detroit guys, senior guard Eric Evans who had a game-high 20 points and sophomore swingman Jerry Jones’ who had a career-high 14 points.
“Me and Eric were real good friends from way back in high school, so playing together in college is like a dream,” said Jones who also played a career-high 23 minutes.
The Dukes shot just 30 percent from the field in the first half against Penn State’s predominately zone defense, and were out-rebounded 23-14. There were two significant scoring droughts for both teams in that time, where neither team was able to provide any extra insurance for themselves. Penn State didn’t see a bucket for nearly four minutes, while the Duke’s scored just five points, and the Dukes were not able to convert for over seven minutes, while Penn State managed to score just six points in that span.
“I thought that the defensive effort that we had late in the first half saved us tonight. That could have easily been a 10 or 12 point difference at halftime had we not guarded them and rebounded the ball, that was huge,” said Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart.
It wasn’t pretty basketball from either team for the first 20 minutes, but the Dukes came out after halftime with a whole new approach—to do the things they do well. The Dukes were much more patient in their offense, taking better shots, made smarter passes, allowing them to triple their assist total to 15 in the second half, with T.J. McConnell’s eight as the game-high, and their half-court trap bothered Penn State, who finished with 23 turnovers, 10 above their average. Duquesne had 22 points off of turnovers.
“The first ten minutes (of the second half) definitely favored Duquesne, no question,” said first year Penn State head coach, Pat Chambers.
Evans scored 15 of his 20 points in the second half, and had five steals, including a crucial strip in the final seconds of the game when PSU’s Billy Oliver grabbed an offensive board after a good look from the corner for Cammeron Woodyard, with Penn State down four.
Despite a low-scoring night from senior B.J. Monteiro, he had a game-high nine rebounds and two blocks. Sean Johnson had 10 points, six below his season average. Nine players saw double-digit minutes for Duquesne, and the Dukes’ bench also contributed 21 points.
“I felt like in our last game, we lost the game because we had guys out there who probably didn’t have as much hop in their step as they needed to have and quite frankly, I came into this game personally thinking that no matter what happens, we’re not going to lose this game because we have tired guys on the floor at the end. We are going to make sure that we play our bench, get deep,” said Coach Everhart.
Tim Frazier, Penn State’s top returning scorer on a team that lost 80 percent of its scoring from last season—including all-time leading scorer, Taylor Battle (2,213)—led the Nittany Lions with 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists. He’s currently 8th in the country in assists per game.
“I’d like to see him put it up more. He’s not used to that role, so everyday in practice we charge shots, and he has to shoot and the more and more he does it, the more and more he feels comfortable and doesn’t feel selfish, because he’s really a pass first point guard who’s very skilled,” Chambers said of Fraizer.
Sophomore guard Jermaine Marshall added 12 points for Penn State, including two of PSU’s four three-point buckets. Both teams shot a combined 9 for 40 from the arc.
At the end of the night, the Detroit boy seemed to be spot on when talking about himself as a player, and his thought could also be used to describe his team’s second half performance. “As they say, hard work pays off, so that’s what’s happening right now,” Jones said.
In case you wanted to know…
- This is Eric Evans’ third-career 20-point game.
- Penn State leads the series 24-19.
- This game ends a five game homestand for the Dukes, whose next two games, December 17th and 21st, are on the road against Western Michigan and George Mason respectively.
- Duquesne is now 2-4 all-time at Consol Energy Center.
- Penn State won last year’s matchup, 77-73, led by Taylor Battle’s 31 points.
- First year Penn State coach, Pat Chambers came from Boston University with a record of 42-28 in his two seasons there. Before that he spent five seasons on the coaching staff at Villanova, where he recruited four McDonald’s All-Americans.
The Aly Way