PITTSBURGH — With 4:18 remaining in the second half, Duquesne redshirt sophomore Mike Hughes was dribbling in transition and threw down a dunk which brought the A.J. Palumbo Center fans to their feet.
Hughes was not only a redshirt a season ago but battling an injury which required screws in both knees.
As Hughes was fouled while completing the dunk, the entire Duquesne team both bench and court broke out a large smile and raised their arms repeatedly up in the air which only grew the applause.
The energy Saturday night at the Palumbo Center was high and the opening game of the season was not the only reason why. In total, nine players saw the floor, all of which did so in the opening six minutes.
Duquesne was tested by having to defend a veteran team which is able to score it from beyond the arc and came away with an 84-70 win against William & Mary.
In the second half, Duquesne gave up the lead it had held all game long as Nathan Knight was able to break through and bury a three-point shot.
From that moment, Duquesne was able to pull away using ball rotations and creating open looks for each other, ultimately using a 25-6 scoring run to pull away.
Coming into the game, Coach Keith Dambrot expressed some uncertainty about William & Mary given the Princeton offensive sets, something which gave last year’s Duquesne team trouble, but the Dukes were largely able to contain the Tribe, especially from beyond the arc, holding it to a 40% clip which was aided by an extra make or two down the stretch.
Duquesne shot 52.5% from the field and in the second half had a 66.7% clip from three-point range.
Sophomore guard Eric Williams Jr scored 17 points and added 8 rebounds, while freshman forward Austin Rotroff added 17 points and 7 rebounds in his first game. Redshirt sophomore forward Michael Hughes contributed 13 points and 7 rebounds while freshman guard Sincere Carry dished out nine assists.
Duquesne will next face the UIC Flames Monday as part of a doubleheader with the women’s team. The men’s game is slated for an 8 p.m. tipoff.