PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) — Picture this: T.J. McConnell on a fast break down the floor, a defender on his side, Eric Evans filling in the opposite lane to receive a one-handed cross-key bounce pass from McConnell, leading to Evans’ beautiful behind-the-back assist to B.J. Monteiro, who was trailing down the middle, to lay the ball in for two.

If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, maybe it’s because words don’t do the play justice—or maybe you’re just not a hoops fan.  That play wasn’t a key make or break moment in Duquesne men’s basketball 84-65 win over the University of Louisiana-Lafayette (3-4) last night, but it was one of those moments that reminds you that it really is just a game—and a fun one at that.

“We pretty much know it’s coming now. I saw him (Evans) running and he knew it was coming, I was going to pass it to him the whole way.  When I passed it to him and I saw B.J. behind him, I knew he was going to go behind the back. He did it last year against Charlotte,” said McConnell with a smile.

It’s not tough to feel good about a pretty play when, like the Dukes did in this game, shot 50 percent from the field, had six players finish with double digit scoring, totaled 21 assists, scored 31 points off of turnovers and had 11 blocks.

Senior guard B.J. Monteiro and junior guard Sean Johnson led the Dukes in scoring with 16 a piece, with Johnson going 6 for 10 from the field and Monteiro going 7 for 11.  This is Johnson’s ninth consecutive game scoring in double figures, dating back to last season.

McConnell, Evans and Mike Talley each added 12, with McConnell dishing out seven assists and grabbing five rebounds, and Evans converting 10 of 12 free throws. 14 players saw minutes for the Dukes.  Sophomore swingman Jerry Jones had a career high 10 points, going 3-6 from three-ball range.

“Every guy that comes here was a great scorer in high school, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot of anything if they aren’t an efficient basketball player,” said Dukes head coach Ron Everhart, referring to how excited and pleased he was with the decisions his players were making on the court.

The Dukes held preseason first team All-Sun Belt selection, J.J. Thomas, to just two points in the first half, both off of foul shots and held ULL to 22 percent shooting from the field to take a 44-23 halftime lead.

Louisiana zoned in the second half, where they more than doubled their first half field goal shooting percentage and exactly doubled their three-point field goal percentage, shooting 60 percent, but the closest they came the rest of the way was within 15 at the nine-minute mark.

6-9 center, Kadeem Coleby led ULL with 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Thomas pulled down nine rebounds himself.

“The thing that we focused on this week was us.  We wanted to get to where we were executing better, we were sharing the ball, we were getting more people involved and tonight when I look at the stat sheet and see six guys in double figures, that’s exciting to me. Some of the things we’ve been preaching all week have at least have been listened to,” Everhart said.

Rebounding continues to be an issue—last night on the offensive boards—where Louisiana had 21 to the Dukes’ eight.

Duquesne’s guards have been able to keep the rebounding disparity from affecting the outcome of the game thus far, but this Wednesday night when the Dukes take on the University of Pittsburgh they will face their toughest interior test of the season.

However, not too much could be said about that game tonight.

“A lot of people try to think about their arch rivals, the big game, but we did a good job of focusing on our opponent at hand before any other game. Now is the time we get focused for our next game coming up,” Evans said.

Seems like an efficient strategy.  Only time will tell its effectiveness.

-The Dukes take on the Pitt Panthers in The City Game on Wednesday night at Consol Energy Center at 7PM.

In case you wanted to know…

  • Freshman guard Rich Piekarski was added to the Dukes roster.  He was back-up safety for the Duquesne football team, and began practicing with the hoops team once the football season ended. Piekarski averaged 17 points and nine rebounds for Hudson High School.

Aly Cohen
The Aly Way

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