No matter how long or how bad a losing streak, the promise is that it will end eventually. It may not be in your next game or even next week, but it’s safe to say your team will see another W before the season ends (or when the next season begins). For the Dukes, they were able to finally break out of their losing streak in a big way Wednesday night.
The Dukes rode the hot hand of their freshmen duo Mike Lewis II and Isiaha Mike, who combined for 54 points in route to a complete drubbing of UMass 96-66. The win is tied for the fourth largest margin of victory in program history. They now sit 3-10 in the Atlantic-10 and 10-16 overall.
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Coach Ferry praised his team for putting on their most complete performance of the season.
“This is one of the first times we actually put together a full game,” Ferry said. “During this year when we played well defensively, we struggled offensively. Then there’s games we play good offensively and aren’t as locked in defensively. For the first time they really put it together in league play and put the whole game together. I thought it was a good team win.”
Lewis II led the Dukes in scoring with a career-high 31 points in the win, one point away from tying the Duquesne freshmen record. The game didn’t start out so easy. The St. Louis native went 0-6 from the field until he knocked down a jumper with 6:13 left in the first half. He wouldn’t miss again the rest of the night, going 7-7 from the field and 6-6 from three, which included a ridiculous hook shot from close to half court that put the Dukes up 17 points at the half.
For Lewis II, the encouragement he gets from his teammates and coaches helps fuel his scoring outbursts.
“My teammates and coaching staff have a lot of faith in me,” Lewis II said. “It doesn’t matter if I start out bad or start out good they always tell me be aggressive and look to score.”
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Mike was also a sharpshooter for the Dukes from beyond the arch. He scored 15 of his 24 points from three, finishing the game a perfect 5-5. As a team, the Dukes converted 14-of-26 from deep, tying a season-high set back in January in a loss at La Salle.
According to Mike, they get looks like this all the time. This time the shots just went in.
“It’s the confidence that coach gives us,” Mike said. “We take a lot of open shots they just happened to fall tonight. We just gotta continue to look for the open shots.”
One of the unsung heroes for the Dukes in this win was the play of Darius Lewis. The senior made his first start tonight since the RMU game back in December. Lewis had fallen out of the rotation and did not even see the court in the last game against St. Louis. But with UMass starting 6-foot-11 Rashaan Holloway, who resembled a Mack truck, and Jordan Robinson out for the game with a knee injury, the senior had the opportunity to earn his way back in the regular lineup. Lewis may not have lit up the score sheet, he finished with four points and six rebounds, but he played a critical role in limiting Holloway, who was averaging 11.4 points coming into the game. Holloway was held to his second lowest total in conference play, scoring only six points and collecting three rebounds.
Though he wishes Lewis’s senior season had more positives than negatives, Coach Ferry could not have been prouder of Lewis after his effort tonight.
“I love Darius. We have been through a lot together,” Ferry said. “He hasn’t had the senior year he’s wanted or we expected, but he always knew he had to stay ready. We come up against this guy and that was in the game plan from day one. Once I knew we were playing UMass I was starting him in this game. But for him to come up and play as well as he did makes me feel really good for him and really good for our program.”
The Dukes will try to make it two in a row when they host George Washington Sunday at the A.J. Palumbo Center. The Colonials were able to hold off the Dukes 65-63 in their game in D.C. last month. Tipoff is set for noon and the game can be seen on NBCSN.