McCANDLESS TWP., Pa. — The Duquesne men’s basketball team moved to 2-0 with their win over Lamar on Tuesday night and the Dukes victory against the Cardinals was win No. 450 for head coach Keith Dambrot.
“That means I’ve coached a long time,” Dambrot said of the feat. “I didn’t even know they gave me (a game ball) for 450; I thought it was 500. It will mean more when I retire.”
Dambrot was more focused on his team’s performance against the Cardinals.
Duquesne held Lamar scoreless in the final 4:02 of the game on Tuesday night. The Dukes scored 8 points in that time frame and beat the Cardinals 66-56.
It wasn’t always pretty for the Dukes, but a win is a win, especially for only the second game of the season.
“I wish we would have played a little better,” Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot said. “I felt like we tried. … We just spun in mud, kind of.”
The score was 23-23 at the half, and the Dukes just shot 25.8% from the field at the break.
“I feel like we have a good team,” Dambrot said. “But I also know that you have to win when you don’t play very well.”
The Dukes coughed up 18 turnovers to the Cardinals, which isn’t a recipe for success when they weren’t shooting the ball well.
Center Baylee Steele shot the ball 7-of-14 from the field and knocked in three 3-pointers in the Dukes opening night win against Princeton, but with several open looks on Tuesday, Steele shot only 2-of-13 from the field and 1-of-8 from three.
“I think if (Steele) makes, we win by 20,” Dambrot said. “I told him, ‘I’m the only coach in the world that lets you shoot (threes), now you better make them.'”
That is the difference with Dambrot’s team this season. They have four to five different guys that can provide scoring on the offensive end. One guy struggling on the offensive end isn’t the end of the world.
On Tuesday, the Dukes got 17 points from Mike Hughes, 16 from Sincere Carry, and 15 from Maceo Austin.
Steele’s counterpart, Hughes, scored all 17 of his points in the second half as he was forced to the bench after picking up two fouls just two minutes into the game. Eight of Hughes’ 10 rebounds (fourth career double-double) came in the second half, as well as his two ferocious blocks.
“It changes everything (when Hughes is on the court),” Dambrot said. “He’s the best shot-blocker in the A10, he’s very mobile, and he can score on the block. (He) changes how we play.”
Another critical addition to the win against Lamar was the solid play of the Dukes freshman Maceo Austin. Austin was the only bright spot in the first half (10 points, four rebounds, and two steals), and Dambrot was pleased with Austin’s play.
“The best player we had tonight was who?” Dambrot asked at his post-game press conference. “Maceo Austin. … He was the most unselfish in our group. He knows how to win. I’m probably the biggest Maceo fan in the world.”
With the apparent offensive struggles throughout the 40 minutes against Lamar, the Dukes’ overall energy didn’t take a hit.
The Dukes turned the Cardinals over 18 times and held them to only 25% from the 3-point line. Duquesne also out-rebounded Lamar 40-31.
“I thought we were a little better when it comes to defending and rebounding tonight,” Dambrot said. “We just have to get better from the offensive struggles in this game. This one was probably good for us.”
Dambrot and the Dukes have a quick turn around as they face Lipscomb on Friday at 7 p.m. The Bisons made it to the NIT finals last season and made the NCAA tournament in 2017-18.