PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) — Luckily for Duquesne (15-10, 6-5), the first 45 seconds of last night’s game, where the Fordham Rams (9-15, 2-9) grabbed four consecutive offensive rebounds and kicked the ball out for four uncontested 3-pointers, none of which were made, did not set the pace for the rest of the game.
The Dukes went on a 15-2 run in the first four minutes of the game, and didn’t look back that half.
Their zone offense was efficient, with quick touches and baseline feeds for easy lay-ins, while they exceeded their average of 6.8 3-pointers made per game by sinking 8-of-15 in the first half.
Senior swingman B.J. Monteiro was some kind of zoned in last night as he went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc, 6-for-7 from the field and was 8-for-9 from the line to lead the Dukes to a 46-29 halftime lead.
Monteiro finished with a career-high 30 points and eight rebounds, the second most points scored by a Duke player in a game since Melquan Bolding’s 32 points in 2010, coincidentally in a 111-100 win over Fordham.
“I took the open shots last game, I didn’t make them, tonight I took the open shots and I just happen to make them,” Monteiro said.
Although the Rams are just 1-11 on the road this season, they are much improved from a season ago when they finished with a 7-21 overall record. They are 8-4 at home, beating a now 21-3 Harvard team that was ranked 22nd at the time.
Duquesne head coach Ron Everhart made sure to drive home the point that the Rams would not back down—and they did not.
“I told our guys at halftime that Fordham was good and they were going to come out and shoot it a lot better and they did in the second half. We anticipated that that. I wish we would have guarded them a little bit better in the first 12 minutes,” Everhart said.
The Rams shot 50 percent from the field in the first nine minutes of the second half, 12 percent above their average and 16 percent better than they shot in the first 20 minutes of the game.
“They scored in every possession in the second half until we started getting stops,” sophomore guard T.J. McConnell said.
Preseason 2nd team All-A10, and top rebounder in the conference with 10.1 per game, Fordham junior forward Chris Gaston, had just two rebounds in the first half. Duquesne was able to keep the rebounding margin close in the first, being outrebounded by three, but they were outrebounded by 13 in the second. Gaston got his 51st career double-double, finishing the game with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
The Dukes have been plagued by large runs this season, and last night was no different in that sense when Fordham went on a 27-11 run to start the second half, making it a one-point game with 11:24 to go. What was different was their ability to play the game without changing how they play the game.
“I was really happy with the way our guys responded. I thought we kept our composure; we kept fighting, kept battling. We didn’t try to go off on our own. Everybody executed and we even got some offense rebounds towards the end,” coach Everhart said.
The Rams are second in the A-10 in offensive rebounds with 14.2 per game.
McConnell hit two huge back-to-back three’s during the Dukes’ 14-5 run to take a 10-point lead with five minutes remaining. Junior guard Sean Johnson along with McConnell each added 13 points.
“They left me open, I wasn’t hitting in the first half,” McConnell said as he characteristically followed with credit to his teammates for getting him the ball.
Senior guard Eric Evans joined the 1,000-point club, needing just six points going into the game. Evans had nine points, dished out five assists and had no turnovers.
Temple, the top team in the conference, with the two top scorers in the conference in Ramone Moore (18.8) and Khalif Wyatt (16.7), is up next for the Dukes as they travel to Philly for a 2PM game on Saturday.
“The good part about it is that the next time we see that 1-3-1, which we haven’t seen all year, we’ll be better against it. The bad part about it is the next two opponents that we have (Temple and Dayton), haven’t played zone in the last six years,” Coach said. “We’re going to see that tough, grind-it-out, hard-hedge, man-to-man that those teams play. It’s going to be back to the drawing board now and getting back to work on that kind of offense.”
Let’s end the recap and start the day with one more “good part”, though. One more “good part” that doesn’t have to do specifically with last night’s game or Saturday’s upcoming game, but just something we all can relate to—whether you’re an athlete, a fan or someone who has never watched or played a sport in your life (the latter probably isn’t reading, so pass along the message).
Reflecting back to off nights, bad games or tough losses this season and looking forward to the rest of the regular season, Coach Everhart should influence how you go about your game plan today, even if it’s not how to effectively beat a 1-3-1 zone.
“There’s never anything wrong with you as a person, and it doesn’t say anything about your character or what you’re made up of when you fail, because you’re going to. Inevitably it’s always very telling about who you are, character-wise, in how you respond to those failures,” he said.
Plan as you may.
In case you wanted to know…
- Fordham is ranked 41st in the nation in rebounds with 37.8 per game. They grabbed 52 last night.
- Three additional players had double-digits for the Rams. Branden Frazier, Alberto Estwick and Bryan Smith had 10, 11 and 10 respectively. Kevin Bristol grabbed 10 boards for the Rams.
- The Dukes are ranked 3rd in the country behind Syracuse and VCU in turnover margin (+5.5).
- This is the fourth straight win for the Dukes over the Rams.
- Duquesne is now 10-3 at home. This is the fifth consecutive season they have home win totals in double-digits. They have only had double-digit home wins two times in 25 seasons before Everhart took over as head coach in 2006.
- Evans became the 36th member of Duquesne’s 1,000-point club. He needs three assists to become just the 10th player in school history to record 1,000 points and 300 assists.
- “We just have to come out a little more focued especially on the road, start getting some of those victories on the road and protect our home court the rest of the way,” Monteiro said looking forward to the rest of the season.
- The Dukes round out the regular season with a total of three road games at Temple, George Washington and Charlotte, and two home games against Dayton and Saint Louis.
- The top four teams in the A-10 get a bye in the conference tourney, while 5th through 8th place gets home court advantage.
- The Dukes are currently head-to-head with Dayton, sitting in eighth place, each 6-5 in conference play. The average number of wins a team has had the past five seasons in order to get a home game is 7.8.
- Congrats to Dukes play-by-play announcer, Ray Goss, who is being inducted into the Western Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame on May 5th!
The Aly Way