PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Duquesne hits the road Wednesday to square off against the Dayton Flyers. The Dukes are coming off a last-second loss to Saint Bonaventure on Saturday. It was their fourth defeat in the last six games and dropped them to seventh in the A-10 standings. All four setbacks have come by less than eight points. Here’s a quick look at some of the keys to the game.
Jekyll and Hyde Flyers
Since blowing out VCU, 106-79, on Jan. 12, Dayton is just 1-4 its last five games. The Flyers lost in double-overtime to UMass Saturday, 86-82. All five starters accounted for the team’s points, as the bench failed to score.
In its 10 wins this season, Dayton averages nearly 82 points games, compared to 66 in its 12 losses. Duquesne limited the Flyers to 38 percent shooting in a 70-62 victory back on Dec. 30. The Dukes will need to repeat their defensive performance to avoid slipping to .500 in conference play for the first time this season.
Dayton’s Josh Cunningham and Darrell Davis both average better than 16 points per contest. Cunningham ranks sixth nationally in field goal percentage (.683), and Davis leads the A-10 in free throw shooting at 86 percent.
Protecting Leads on the Road
While the Dukes’ road record is 2-3, it fails to tell the whole story. Outside of the debacle against Saint Louis, they have been in every contest. Duquesne held double-digit second half leads at both VCU and Rhode Island yet lost. In both instances, turnovers and missed shots were the team’s undoing.
After going up a dozen over VCU early in the second half, the Dukes missed 11 of their next 12 shots and turned the ball over three times during a tumultuous six-minute sequence. Three straight misses at the rim during one possession highlighted the collapse. The Rams tied the game on their next possession and went ahead for good moments later.
Against Rhode Island, the Dukes converted just one field goal during a five-minute stretch that saw a 15-point advantage shrink to four. They missed eight of nine shots during that span and committed four turnovers—12 empty possessions against a Top 25 team. The Rams eventually surged ahead, building a six-point lead, but Duquesne regrouped to tie the game with 28 seconds left.
The Dukes showed better resiliency as the month of January wore on, and they’ll need to show that same resolve against Dayton. Duquesne has just six wins in 37 games in the Gem City. It must avoid long stretches without a field goal or untimely turnovers to avoid its fifth straight road loss to the Flyers.
Winning the Rebounding Battle
Duquesne leads the A-10 in rebounding with 38 boards per game. The Dukes are 13-5 this season when outrebounding opponents, compared to 2-4 when losing the battle on the glass.
During Saturday’s loss to St. Bonaventure, Duquesne gave up 15 offensive rebounds, including 10 in the second half. Trailing 74-71 with 4:56 remaining, the Bonnies scored their next three baskets off offensive rebounds to go ahead 79-76. The Dukes rallied to tie the game in the late stages, but St. Bonaventure’s Jaylen Adams hit a three with a less than six seconds left to lift the Bonnies to a three-point win. For the game, St. Bonaventure outrebounded the Dukes by two and scored 20 second-chance points.
Dayton ranks second-to-last in the A-10 in rebounding (31.8) and was outrebounded, 36-34, by Duquesne during the first meeting.
Defending the Three
Duquesne ranks among the NCAA leaders in three-point field goal defense but gave up a season-worst 11 triples to St. Bonaventure. It was the most threes allowed by the Dukes since Pitt hit nine in the City Game on Dec. 1. Dayton ranks fifth in the conference with 184 made threes, and three players have connected for 36 or more treys this season.