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Dukes Improve to 2-0 in A-10 Play, Defeat GW

Dukes Improve to 2-0 in A-10 Play, Defeat GW

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – So much for preseason polls.

Picked last by the Atlantic 10 coaches before the start of the season, the Duquesne Dukes are the league’s biggest surprise.

Eric Williams Jr. hit a career-high five threes en route to scoring 21 points, Rene Castro-Caneddy added 12 points, and Duquesne pulled away in the second half to defeat George Washington, 69-52, Wednesday evening. The win improved the Dukes to 2-0 in conference play for the time since 2010-11.

It marked the fifth time this season the Dukes have held an opponent to under 60 points and the first against a conference opponent since downing George Mason, 62-53, on Jan. 31, 2015. The 52 points were the fewest the Colonials have scored in the series since 1981.

Duquesne has now won nine of its last 10 games in part to a stingy defense. During that stretch, the Dukes are holding opponents to a meager 59 points per contest.

“All I’ve done is manage them,” head coach Keith Dambrot said. “I’ve shown them the way, but they’ve done it themselves. They made the necessary changes to become a formidable team.”

Williams Jr. recorded his sixth double-double of the season, adding 12 rebounds to his game-high 21 points. Castro-Caneddy was his steady self, picking his spots to exploit matchups and adding five assists.

George Washington managed just 23 second half points, the fewest the Dukes have surrendered in a game this season, besting the mark they set against Dayton (28) on Saturday in their A-10 opener.

“We knew that didn’t have a lot of pop,” Dambrot said. “They’re a lot like us—they’re a defensive-oriented team—so we knew it was going to be a low-scoring game.”

George Washington, which trailed by as many as 11 in the first half, cut the deficit to 44-40 with 13:55 remaining, but the Dukes answered with four straight points on jumpers by Williams Jr. and Mike Lewis II.

Williams Jr.’s three at the midway point of the second half widen the gap to nine, and Kellon Taylor’s layup with 8:12 left pushed the lead to double-digits. A breakaway dunk by Williams Jr. and a Lewis II three on back-to-back possessions with 2:51 remaining put the game away for good, capping a 19-5 run.

Lewis II struggled from the field for the second straight game, hitting just four of 13 shots. He finished with nine points, only the second time all season he has failed to score 10 or more.

“It just shows we have other guys who are capable,” Castro-Caneddy said of Lewis II’s cold shooting night.

A 9-1 Duquesne run in the first half—highlighted by Williams Jr.’s tomahawk slam—opened up a 32-21 cushion. The Colonials rallied, though, scoring the half’s final six points to trail, 34-29, at the break.

The visitors fell behind by eight early in the second half but continued to chip away, frequently switching to a zone defense to disrupt the Dukes. But much like they have in recent games, the Dukes kept their composure and ultimately pulled away for their 11th victory.

George Washington shot 38 percent from the floor and was 8-24 from the floor in the second half. For the game, the Colonials missed 11 of their 14 three-point attempts.

Duquesne hit 48 percent of its attempts from the field, connected for seven threes, and outscored the visitors by 12 in the paint (36-24).

It was Duquesne’s eighth straight home victory and 10th overall on the season, marking the seventh time in the last 30 years the Dukes have won double-digit home games.

The Dukes will hit the road Saturday for a contest at Fordham. It will be their first true road test of the season, making them the last Division I team to play such a game. Tipoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.

Duquesne Postgame

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker

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