Jubilation can turn to heartbreak in a matter of seconds in college basketball.
Down by 1 with 6 seconds left, freshmen Isiaha Mike drained a jumper to give Duquesne the lead over Canisius 77-76. But 4 seconds later, forward Phil Valenti put the dagger in the Dukes heart, sinking a baseline jumper after two offensive rebounds to give the Golden Griffins the lead and the win 78-77, dropping Duquesne to 2-2.
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“If we would have gotten that one last rebound, the game was over,” Coach Jim Ferry said.
Graduate transfer Emile Blackman, who had a game high 18 points along with Tarin Smith, said it was tough to be on the losing end, but that is what makes college basketball exciting
“It was a crazy sequence,” Blackman said. “Basically It defines what college basketball is. It’s sad to be on the losing end of that.”
With 12:04 left in the game, Duquesne took their biggest lead of the following a Mike dunk that put them up 61-53. However, the Dukes would go ice cold from the field for the next 11 minutes, allowing Canisius to hang in the game.
Ferry pointed out the inexperience of the different lineups on the floor.
“It looked like a lot of new pieces trying to play together,” Ferry said. “Our execution was not very good. Stuff we were hurting them with early we weren’t executing. It just showed our newness.”
Going 21-32 from the charity stripe did’t help them either.
“We left 11 free throws on the line,” Ferry said. “If you wanna win a game like that you can’t leave 11 points on the line like we did there.”
Like in their win over St. Francis, Duquesne fell behind by double digits in the first half. After trading leads for the first six minutes, Canisius caught fire from downtown, going 9-15 from three in the first half. But like Wednesday night, the Dukes rallied back going on a 10-0 to end the half trailing by 2. Blackman admitted they need to come out stronger at the beginning of the game.
“I think we just need to start games out better,” Blackman said. “The last three games we dug a hole for ourselves early. So if we just come out and get ahead early or at least make it closer not be down by nine ten points earlier on in the game we don’t lose by one. If we start up maybe we win by one.”
Defending the three has been a weak spot for the Dukes going back to last season. Though they limited Canisius to 4-11 in the second half, the Golden Griffins sunk two big three’s in the final minutes. Mike, who finished the night with a career high 17 points, stated their communication needs to be better on defense.
“I think we need to do a better job of communicating off the ball,” Mike said. “They played really fast. Weak side they had a lot of action and I think we got caught up with what was going on over there instead of seeing and reacting to the ball.”
The Dukes will have to rebound quickly after this tough defeat. Duquesne will travel to Lexington to take on the #2 ranked Kentucky Wildcats Sunday at 9 PM on ESPNU. Kentucky blew out #13 Michigan St. 69-48 Tuesday night in Madison Square Garden. They return to the Palumbo Center Wednesday night to take on UT Martin 7 PM.