Inside the Dukes: A Winning Season Secured
PITTSBURGH — Frankie Hughes has scored nearly 70% of his points this season on three-point shots but the shot has not been falling with the consistency he is seeking for the past two weeks, so when his first three such attempts did not fall Saturday, he had to improvise.
“I told Sin (Carry) before I made them, ‘I can’t pray for one to go in for me right now’,” he said. “The next one went in, so I guess god heard me.”
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All told, Hughes set a career-high with seven made three-point shots, including four in a row in the first half as Duquesne bested George Washington 85-69 at the Palumbo Center, securing its ninth winning season since joining the Atlantic 10 in 1976-77.
“Last time we got up big early and that was our mindset but this time not to let up,” said Hughes. “We always had to be in attack mode and not let up on the gas.”
Duquesne opened the contest with a 13-2 lead coming out aggressive from the start as GW hit an early stumbling block. Though the visitors would get back into the game and take short leads, it was clear who the aggressors were and Duquesne was able to pull away late in the second half, finishing what it started.
“We were ahead against them when we played at their place, basically we were trying to stay ahead, last time we got behind,” freshman guard Sincere Carry said.
Though the scoreboard separation became noticeable toward game’s end, an argument could be made that GW was the more polished team, but Duquesne created some separation with its 12 made three-point shots.
“The hard part about coaching is that you can be misled because the ball goes in the basket,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot said. “I thought we tried hard but we had a hard time keeping them in front, we didn’t guard great. This team has been so erratic but tough. When they’re behind, they fight like dogs. Tonight when it mattered, we played well.”
IT’S CHIPPY CHIPPY CHIPPY
From the beginning of Saturday’s contest, both teams were quick to trash talk the other and it certainly was a game within the game.
Duquesne started off fast and GW struggled to catch up and the former certainly let the opposition know.
Carry did a dance after each three he made, one which drew a laugh when asked about it after the game. He stated it was to have fun though he grabbed his lower region of his body which was noted by several media and fans alike.
During another Duquesne offensive sequence, a basket went in and Eric Williams Jr stared down the GW bench.
During the second half, Michael Hughes drew a charging foul and was excited about the play. GW’s Terry Nolan Jr was called for the charge and then shoved Hughes which led to Tavian Dunn-Martin coming into the fray, though his role was minor if at all.
While the referees tried to calm both teams down, Hughes did his best Deion Sanders impression high stepping past halfcourt with a wide smile on his face, after which he encouraged Duquesne fans to make noise repeatedly raising his hands in the air.
It was clear Nolan and GW were frustrated and Duquesne won the final 6:33 after the offsetting technical fouls by a 15-5 margin.
“Every time a tech is called, that’s always kind of a momentum shifter, especially a tech like that where you can tell a player from the other team gets frustrated or loses their focus,” Frankie Hughes said.
With Duquesne up 16 with 10 seconds left in regulation, Williams decided to dunk with the shot clock set to expire. It was a move which upset the GW bench as Maceo Jack dunked right back and led to words in the handshake line as a player refused to shake Williams’s hand.
Dambrot was not a fan of Williams’s dunk and was seen before and after the handshake talking to him.
“I mean I don’t love it obviously,” said Dambrot. “That’s young people. We told him, we apologized. Kids will be kids.”
REST, RECOVERY, RETURN
Duquesne is now in a spot where it does not have another contest until Sunday at George Mason, something which to an extent puts Dambrot in a bind.
It was clear that Duquesne came together Sunday and there were plenty of positives the team could string to prepare for a potential Wednesday contest, the team now also has a chance to get closer to 100% health wise.
“Normally this time of year, I don’t really like the week off, but for this particular time, I like the week off,” Dambrot said. “Now I may be telling you something different two weeks from now, but for a bunch of young guys that have never been through it, they been in more close games than any team I’ve ever had. Even when you win, you’re emotionally drained. These guys think I give them days off, I give me days off, because I need to replenish as well. I have to give it everything I have every single game. That’s preparation, practice, managing people, trying to get better on a daily basis. I think we’ll come back better. it gives Sin and Tavian more time. We have to make sure we push it a little bit to make sure we are game ready in a week.”
PLUSES AND MINUSES
All nine Duquesne players who saw time Saturday were in the positive, something which seemed to satisfy Dambrot following the game.
He expressed a curiosity in finding out who the most efficient player was and that was Carry at a +15. Carry was questionable to play with his leg injury and he was able to play 36 minutes.
“What that freshman is doing is pretty incredible when you think about it,” Dambrot said. “He’s running the complete show, he’s influencing the game on both ends and getting other people involved on a relatively poor knee.”
Both Frankie Hughes and Marcus Weathers finished at +14, while Michael Hughes was right behind at +13.
NUMBERS OF THE GAME… 6 & 25
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Duquesne was able to score 25 points on 17 George Washington turnovers, turning defense into offense with consistent efficiency.
“I’m not a very good passive coach, in life you have to know what you are,” Dambrot said. “Anytime you get outside of your realm and personality, usually you don’t have success. I’m tweaking some things but generally when we turn people over, we win.”
Duquesne recorded six turnovers which represents a program low under Dambrot as the team took what GW gave it and minimized mistakes.
“We’re just trying to play smart and not force anything,” said Carry. “Once we get the ball moving and you get more open shots, it makes the game easier. We just have to stay consistent as we move on and finish it off before we get to the Atlantic 10 tournament.”
HE SAID IT
“I thought Lamar Norman really helped us. His numbers don’t indicate much, but he ate good minutes, was aggressive and played good defense. To me we are a little bit thin, we have to keep developing that bench to really take a run at this thing.” – Dambrot
They’re all cold sweats for me. You see Duke come back from 23, or us 18, you know as a veteran coach that anything is possible. To me the game is not over until it is over and we have to keep learning that. When we get to that point where we are playing as hard as we can every play, every day then we’ll get where we want to be.