BROOKLYN — Down one point in Atlantic 10 Championship second round action, the Duquesne men’s basketball team surrendered a 9-0 run in 1:39 of game action which created the necessary separation for Saint Joseph’s.
Duquesne was looking to win its opening game for the fourth time since 1995 and make its first Atlantic 10 Championship quarterfinal since the 2008-09 season but fell short by a 92-86 score.
The 84 points Duquesne scored were its highest total since Feb. 16, a span of five games, while the 92 points conceded are the most in the Atlantic 10 Championship match since 2012 when Massachusetts achieved the same point total.
Sophomore guard Eric Williams Jr paced Duquesne with 23 points and nine rebounds. Redshirt sophomore forward Marcus Weathers posted his fourth double-double of the season with his 17 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Lamar Norman Jr added 18 points in his first start since Dec. 13.
Duquesne was in control for much of the first half, leading by as many as 10 points when Weathers completed a three-point play at the free throw line.
A change in the starting lineup allowed Norman to replace Frankie Hughes in the lineup and early on it paid dividends as the former scored 13 first-half points on 5-for-6 shooting from the field
Saint Joseph’s was able to cut into Duquesne’s advantage by making three-point shots and soon enough it was a one-possession game.
When Michael Hughes was called for a charging foul with 4:12 remaining in the first half, Duquesne had to go with a smaller lineup and the lead down to one point. Hughes pleaded his case as Saint Joseph’s Taylor Funk appeared to have one foot in the circle, but it was to no avail.
From there, Saint Joseph’s outscored Duquesne 15-8, taking a 49-43 halftime advantage. In the half, Saint Joseph’s had 12 bench points compared to Duquesne’s 0. Duquesne’s bench would finish with ten points for the contest. Saint Joseph’s made all nine of its first-half free throws.
The teams traded momentum back and forth throughout the second and a Norman three-point shot with 12:48 remaining in the second half briefly put Duquesne back on top, but again Saint Joseph’s was able to respond.
Duquesne concludes the Atlantic 10 Championship with a 19-13 overall record and its postseason future is unknown at this point. Since the Palumbo Center floor has already been removed for a previously announced facility renovation, it is unknown how that would affect the team given tournaments such as the NIT and CBI look for teams that can host.