McCANDLESS TOWNSHIP, Pa. — With a Wednesday night’s non-conference game hanging in the balance at La Roche University’s Kerr Fitness Center, Mike Hughes decided to take matters into his own hands, taking a shot inside the paint and falling backwards as the basketball seemed to provide additional suspense as to whether it would drop.
After a few bounces around the rim, Hughes’ momentum carried him towards some courtside Duquesne fans and a combination of a foul call and the basket counting providing the redshirt junior center with plenty of excitement as he was greeted by teammates.
Hughes paced Duquesne with 23 points and 10 rebounds, good for his third double-double of the season as Duquesne came back from another halftime deficit, besting VMI by a 71-58 score to improve to 7-0 on the 2019-20 season, the Dukes’ best start to a season in 40 years.
Sophomore guard Sincere Carry added 13 points and eight assists, while redshirt junior guard Tavian Dunn-Martin contributed 11 points.
VMI was led by freshman guard Travis Evee who scored a career-high 26 points on 17 shots. VMI’s leading scorer, Kamdyn Curfman was held to six points.
Early on, Duquesne showed some of the form that allowed it to open the season 6-0 as it jumped scored the game’s first seven points and held VMI without a field goal for the opening 4:38, but after the first media timeout, that form quickly began to dissipate.
Duquesne became frustrated on the offensive end as VMI countered the Dukes attempts to force the ball inside on the Keydets’ match-up zone, only to be met with doubles.
Instead of extending possessions, Duquesne made ill-advised decisions and did not take enough high-percentage shots committing 10 first-half turnovers and shooting 37% from the field and 15.4% from three-point range.
This extended into Duquesne’s defense as VMI was able to rotate the ball around until it got the shot it was looking for, most notably from beyond the arc where it converted five three-point shots.
On the quick ball reversals, one Duquesne defender would consistently be late toward anticipating the pass and almost immediately a shot would be taken and more often then not, fall.
Trailing 30-24 at halftime, Duquesne quickly regrouped, doing so in similar fashion to the first half scoring the opening six points.
When redshirt junior guard Tavian Dunn-Martin buried a three-point shot, Duquesne regained the advantaged. By the under-16 media timeout, the Dukes opened up a 12-2 run.
As the game continued, Duquesne remained in front when both teams had a mini offensive eruption countering each other’s three-point baskets. From there, Duquesne made enough plays to be able to secure the win.
Duquesne will again play at Kerr Fitness Center on Monday when it hosts Columbia.