PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Whatever is in the water at 1304 Forbes Ave recently seems to be fueling the Duquesne Dukes.
Behind a record-setting performance from three, Duquesne throttled Delaware State, 97-48, Saturday to win its third straight game. The Dukes hit a school-record 18 triples, breaking the previous record (17) set on Nov. 20, 2015, against Penn State. In their last three games—all home games—they’ve drained 43 threes, 10 more than they had in their first five contests.
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Defensively, it’s the first time the Dukes have held an opponent under 50 points since they beat Saint Louis, 67-45, on Jan. 12, 2011.
“I’m just happy we can play hard enough that we can impose our will,” Dambrot said of the win. “And we’re no where near where we’re going to be or where we want to be.”
Zach Snyder hit Duquesne’s school record-breaking 18th 3-pointer with 1:12 left in Saturday’s 97-48 win over Delaware State pic.twitter.com/0vFRhI3AbI
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) December 9, 2017
Mike Lewis II led the shooting barrage, knocking down a career-high seven treys. During the team’s winning streak, the sophomore is an unconscious 17 of 26 from behind the arc. He hit six in the win over Maryland Eastern Shore on Monday.
With shots easily falling, the Dukes posted a season-best 25 assists, 15 more than their per-game average. Rene Castro-Caneddy was the main facilitator, dishing out a career-high 10 helpers. He added 12 points to record his first-ever double-double.
“It just goes to show that we’re starting to understand how to play with each other, trust one another a little better,” Lewis II said of the offensive performance.
Duquesne (5-3) drilled its first four attempts from long-range and never looked back, building a 21-point lead in the game’s opening 10 minutes. The Dukes would shoot 12 threes in the first half and miss just three. In comparison, Delaware State (2-9) made just nine total shots—field goals and free throws combined—in the first stanza.
The Hornets mustered only 16 first half points, the fewest points the Dukes have allowed in a half since holding Saint Louis to 13 during an 81-71 win on Jan. 13, 2016. Delaware State didn’t eclipse the 30-point threshold until the 8:14 mark of the second half.
The Duquesne advantage swelled to 52 before the final horn sounded, and the final 49-point margin is the largest since the Dukes defeated Bluefield State, 91-51, to the open the 2014-15 season.
“I think we play well defensively the first half of a lot of games, but we needed to put two halves together,” Eric Williams Jr. said. “I think this game we finally did. The second half we came out and kept defending like we did in the first half.”
The Dukes eclipsed the previous program record of 17 3-pointers made set in a 2OT loss at Va. Tech in the 2009 NIT before tying that mark in a win over Penn Stae on Nov. 20, 2015 // #GoDukes
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) December 9, 2017
“I feel like we’re functional defensively now,” Dambrot added. “I really do. I feel like we can hold our own at least.”
Duquesne shot 49 percent from the floor and was 13-18 from the charity stripe. The Dukes hit more threes than Delaware State did total field goals (17), as the Hornets shot 32 percent from the field.
Williams Jr. was a rebound shy of collecting his third straight double-double, finishing with 22 points and nine rebounds. After going 1-6 from the free throw line against Stetson on Wednesday, he bounced back to hit seven of eight attempts against the Hornets.
Eric James, who is working his way back from a knee injury, added 13 points, and Tarin Smith handed out six assists.
Junior Marko Krivacevic registered his first appearance of the season after missing the first seven games due to a wrist injury. He pulled down two rebounds and missed his only shot attempt in six minutes of action.
ENERGY GENERATING BEHAVIORS
During his post-game press conference, Dambrot went into depth about he how views wins and losses differently than fans and media. He has a system called Energy Generating Behaviors (EGB’s) where the coaching staff charts different actions throughout the game that net a positive result—think blocks, loose ball deflections, charges, chip downs, etc. A point value is assigned to each action and then is totaled at the conclusion of each game.
Despite the recent stretch of good play, Dambrot emphasized the Dukes are not playing at the level he wants, as evidenced by the EGB’s.
“Our Energy Generating Behaviors have not improved much,” Dambrot said. “So we have to continue to get them up to championship level in order to win. So the way you view wins and losses may be different than the way I view them…so when the Energy Generating Behaviors become better, we’re going to win a lot of games.”
He created the system while at Akron, so he has an idea of what EGB levels the Dukes should be hitting on a consistent basis to transform into a championship-caliber team. Dambrot added big man and smaller guards generally lead his teams in EGB’s.
Since being shutout against Pitt, Castro-Caneddy has bounced back in a big way. During the team’s three-game winning streak, the Boston, Massachusetts, native is averaging eight points and seven assists. In his last two games, the grad student has totaled 18 assists. He’s made significant strides in distributing the ball and becoming the team’s starting point guard, which hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I’m proud of what Rene has done,” Dambrot said. “He came in with a reputation really of just pounding it [the ball], not really passing it, and not being a very good defender, but he’s actually a pretty good defender as well now. He’s trying to do everything we ask him to do.”
Dambrot said Chas Brown is playing at about 55 percent right … he’s still searching for consistent scoring from the four-man and even suggested James might stick in that role after today’s performance … 10 different players logged 10 or more minutes … the fewest points Duquesne has ever allowed in a game is 25 against Carnegie Tech on Dec. 5, 1955 … Dambrot reiterated once again Williams Jr. is one of the best he’s ever coached.