OLEAN, N.Y. – St. Bonaventure dealt Duquesne its fifth straight loss Wednesday night, edging the Dukes, 73-67.
It was a matchup of two teams trending in opposite directions. The Bonnies have won nine straight overall while the Dukes can’t seem to recapture the magic that fueled a 5-2 start to conference play.
Much like the first meeting—an 84-81 St. Bonaventure victory—Wednesday’s contest was a tight affair. The game featured 14 ties and 10 lead changes. The second half was largely a one-possession game, and the Bonnies’ biggest lead of eight points didn’t come until the final seconds with the outcome already decided.
The Dukes held St. Bonaventure star Jaylen Adams to only 24 points on 7-14 shooting, a small victory for a team starving to find positives during its longest losing skid of the season. Adams went off for 40 points and hit eight threes, including the game-winning triple, in Pittsburgh back on Feb. 3.
“I thought we did a pretty good job on Jaylen Adams,” head coach Keith Dambrot said. “The second half a little bit less. Part of that is our guards get so tired because we’re playing three on five half the time, because we’re playing a four-man that can’t really score and a five man that really can’t score.”
Duquesne looked to take away Adams and running mate Matt Mobley, forcing secondary options Courtney Stockard and Idris Taqqee into bigger roles. Stockard responded with 12 points, and Taqqee added 11. Mobley finished with just five points.
“We still didn’t do a good enough job on Adams but 24 [points] with Mobley not getting many is plenty good enough to win the game,” Dambrot said.
The second half featured 29 foul calls, and the teams shot a combined 37 free throws over the final 20 minutes. St. Bonaventure was the biggest benefactor, attempting 25 shots compared to Duquesne’s 12. Two calls near the five-minute mark swung the game in the Bonnies’ favor for good after the first 15 minutes were a back and forth affair.
Jordan Robinson’s free throws tied the contest at 56 with 5:01 remaining, but the Dukes were whistled for fouls on back-to-back defensive possessions. St. Bonaventure converted all four attempts at the line.
“I really didn’t like the two calls at the five-minute mark,” Dambrot said. “I feel like you got to at least make them make plays to win the game. Again, they could be fouls. I’m not saying there not fouls, I just feel like for as physical as a game as it was, it was tough. I think there were too many fouls.”
Adams’ three-point play capped the mini-scoring burst, giving St. Bonaventure a 63-58 lead with 3:36 left. Neither team had led by more than three during the second half prior to the run.
Tarin Smith drained a triple to pull the Dukes within two with 1:35 left, only to see Stockard answer with a basket of his own. Following a Duquesne miss, Adams found Taqqee for a dunk, which all but sealed the win.
“We just made some bone-headed plays when it mattered,” Dambrot said. “That’s what it came down to. We didn’t get stops when it mattered.”
The Dukes trailed by seven just over midway through the first half before storming ahead with 11 straight points. Eric Williams Jr. accounted for five of the 11 points, including the first of two first half dunks. His second slam of the period put Duquesne ahead 32-30 shortly before the break, but Adams’ jumper with six seconds left tied the game at the break.
St. Bonaventure shot 46 percent from the floor and hit 29 of 33 free throw attempts. The Bonnies made their first 20 attempts from the stripe and didn’t miss their first free throw until the 6:43 mark of the second half.
Duquesne shot just 35 percent and was 5-22 from behind the arc. The Dukes were outrebounded by one but scored 15 second-chance points.
Williams Jr. poured in a team-high 19 points, and Renee Castro-Caneddy added 15. Robinson scored 11 points off the bench, and Smith chipped in with 10 points.
The loss dropped Duquesne to 15-13 on the season and 6-9 in the Atlantic 10.
The Dukes return home Saturday to host Davidson at noon.