PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)– When the top two scoring teams in the Atlantic 10 face off, one would anticipate a fast-paced game. That’s exactly what went down in last night’s game, except Duquesne (12-7, 3-2) was able to effectively contain Massachusetts (14-5, 3-2), the top scoring team in the A-10, to eight points below their average while the Dukes scored above their average for the 80-69 win.
“Sometimes when you roll the dice you lose and sometimes when you roll the dice you come out on top and I think tonight was one of those situations where we took our chances and we were fortunate,” said Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart, referring to playing with a smaller lineup against the Minutemen’s taller and longer lineup, ultimately resulting in a 48-32 rebounding disparity not in favor of his team.
UMass, the top ranked team in the A-10 going into the game, started out converting in their transition game, but the Dukes’ ball pressure was more than enough to take them out of their game, even with the Minutemen’s 33 fast break points and their 48.4 percent shooting compared to the Dukes’ 40.9 percent.
While the game was certainly physical, UMass shot a total of just nine free throws to the Dukes’ 27. Redshirt sophomore guard, Chaz Williams, who came into the game in the top five in the A-10 in scoring (16.2) assists (5.9) and steals (2.3), was held to a season-low 8 points and fouled out in just 27 minutes of play.
“I think Mike (Talley) and Eric (Evans) really did a great job on defense, they really brought the pressure on Williams and that helped us out to get easy baskets, getting out and running,” said senior swingman B.J. Monteiro.
In his second game back for Duquesne, after missing the first three conference games with stitches in his left hand, Monteiro had a game-high 23 points along with four assists, three blocks, a steal and three boards.
“I didn’t like how I played last game. It was kind of tough for me to play with the wrap on my hand at first, but I have to suck it up, do what I have to do for the team. It’s my senior year, so no holding back now. I just had to work harder and practice (by myself) and I just came out ready to play tonight,” Monteiro said.
Dukes’ leading scorer, Sean Johnson saw his first career double-double, adding 20 points including career-highs with four 3-pointers and 10 rebounds.
The Minutemen just couldn’t protect the ball, as they matched their turnover average of 15 in the first half, and tacked on 14 more in the second. Duquesne converted 32 points off of turnovers.
Duquesne ended the first half with a 41-38 lead, but was able to better contain UMass’s transition game in the second half, allowing just 12 fast break points, compared to the 21 UMass totaled in the first half.
The previous five games the Minutemen had five players averaging in double digits, but finished with just three tonight, led by Jesse Morgan’s 14 points and Sean Carter’s 12 point, 14 rebound double-double.
In a game that had 15 lead changes, after struggling to put the game away time again this season, the Dukes had to make some plays—and that they did. With less than five minutes to go in the game, Jerry Jones nailed a three with the shot clock winding down, followed by a T.J. McConnell steal and pull up jumper that put Duquesne up 73-61.
“That was the run that I think that was the key run for us. Making plays like that…we do that to each other everyday in practice. They (UMass) were a little behind, they had to push it at us and we had to make a decision whether to hold it or to push it right back at them and we made the decision to stay aggressive with it and keep playing,” said Coach Everhart.
Jones finished with eight points and grabbed six boards. McConnell had 15 points, six assists and four steals. Just a few plays before that run, McConnell also had knocked down a big three from beyond the arc in a set play coming out of a Duquesne timeout.
The Dukes finished with 19 assists, 10 steals and 12 turnovers.
“Our kids are starting to not get mechanical and get locked in late. They’re starting to read the defense, take what it gives you and we were much better at that tonight than we have been. Hopefully we can continue to do that. That sort of varies by opponents, but that was good tonight,” Everhart said.
In case you wanted to know…
- The Dukes travel to take on Saint Louis (14-4, 2-2) this Saturday at 8PM.
- Williams, who has an assist turnover ratio of nearly 2-1 had 4 assists and 7 turnovers.
- Duquesne has started 8 different lineups in the past 10 games.
- Sophomore guard McConnell ranks second in the nation in steals per game with 2.9. He is currently ninth on Duquesne’s all time career steals list with 148 steals in 51 career games.
- Junior center Andre Marhold sat out tonight with concussion-like symptoms after being elbowed in the head during last Saturday’s game at Rhode Island. He is averaging 5.7 ppg. and 4.4. rebounds for the Dukes this season.
The Aly Way