By Dylan Butler
BRONX, N.Y. — As the last Division I team to play its first true road game, Duquesne made sure to pack everything necessary to take on Fordham Saturday afternoon.
Blue uniforms? Check.
Gray warmups? Check.
Defensive intensity? Triple check.
“No matter if the game is neutral, home or away our defense travels,” guard Rene Castro-Caneddy said. “That’s the most important thing.”
The Dukes took their defensive effort to another level in a 64-41 rout at Rose Hill Gymnasium. They held the host Rams to just 15 second-half points and the 41 points allowed was Duquesne’s lowest since a 34-33 loss to St. Peter’s on March 10, 1980.
The margin of victory for Duquesne (12-4, 3-0 A10), which has won 10 of its last 11 games, was the largest ever in an Atlantic 10 road contest.
The Dukes were a plus-24 on the boards, but the stat that made coach Keith Dambrot the proudest was the “10 kills.” One kill equals three consecutive defensive stops.
“We’ve been trying to emphasize playing better defense in the second half,” Dambrot said.
Led by Castro-Caneddy, who scored a game-high 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range on the eve of his 24th birthday, the Dukes blew open a close game at the half with a devastating 17-0 run to start the second half.
In front of several family members who made the four-hour drive from Boston, the graduate student scored 10 points during the stretch, including a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to extend the Duquesne lead to 46-26. The Dukes led by as many as 26 in the second half.
“He’s a good player so he’s capable of making tough shots and he’s very deceptive,” Dambrot said of Castro-Caneddy. “He doesn’t look like he’s a great athlete, but he gets by people and he’s got a really good feel for the game. He had it going and he showed it. When you have it going, you let it sling.”
With both teams struggling to score out of the gate, Castro-Caneddy was the only player to have a hot hand early. His layup after Tarin Smith (12 points, 6 assists) threw an alley-oop to Jordan Robinson (10 points, 7 rebounds) was the highlight of a 12-0 run that answered 10 straight points by Fordham (6-9, 1-2) to put the Dukes up 19-13. They’d never trail again.
“My coach always says to be aggressive, whether its passing, scoring, just always look to create for others and yourself,” Castro-Caneddy said. “I felt like my team needed me because we were struggling to score. I’m still going to stay aggressive.”
The same is true of Duquesne, which plays two of its next three A10 games away from the Palumbo Center, including Tuesday against VCU.
“We’re trying to build a championship-quality team and you have to build that with good behaviors,” Dambrot said. “Our guys have really done an unbelievable job of getting better from the beginning of the year to now. I think the biggest thing is their belief structure has improved. They’ve done everything we’ve asked. They’ve been fun to coach.”