PITTSBURGH — The Duquesne men’s basketball team had the seventh-ranked Dayton Flyers in a bit of a predicament using a 15-2 run to assist in making Wednesday night’s game at PPG Paints Arena, a closely-contested game and both team’s crowds were active in an effort to help its respective side complete the victory.
Dayton brought the ball up and Jalen Crutcher found Trey Landers for a basket and a foul. Despite Duquesne’s attempted late-game heroics, Dayton’s ability to respond proved key as the game drew closer to a conclusion.
Down the stretch, Dayton was able to do enough to pull out a 73-69 victory.
Duquesne (15-5, 5-3 Atlantic 10) had four players achieve double-figure point totals led by Mike Hughes who scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Marcus Weathers had 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds while Tavian Dunn-Martin (14 points) and Sincere Carry (11), rounded out the Duquesne quartet.
Dayton (19-2, 8-0 Atlantic 10) was paced by Obi Toppin’s sixth double-double of the season which consisted of 22 points and 10 rebounds. Jalen Crutcher added 18 points, five rebounds and six assists. Additionally, Trey Landers had 12 points, nine of which came in the first half.
Early on, Duquesne tried its best to limit Toppin’s effectiveness in the paint and avoid the potential NBA Lottery selection’s game-changing alley oops. In two instances, this proved to be successful and allowed for Duquesne to set its offense back up.
Though it never led in the first half, Duquesne hung around despite Dayton shooting 64% from the field. Duquesne recorded seven assists on its 11 first-half baskets and grabbed eight offensive rebounds to give itself second-chance opportunities.
With Duquesne trying to match Toppin’s physicality, Landers found himself on the receiving end of multiple open passes and also was able to successfully create space for both himself as well as his teammates.
For its part, Duquesne did have one change to its starting lineup as Austin Rotroff started in place of Michael Hughes, marking the former’s first start of the season.
Toppin still had success against Duquesne making all three of his shots from the field and both free throws, while Ryan Mikesell also was a beneficiary with his post moves and open looks following Dayton’s screens and multiple ball actions.
Duquesne needed a basket and a stop to end the first half to go to the locker room with some momentum against seventh-ranked Dayton, but ultimately were unsuccessful in both areas. Duquesne was unable to convert a difficult layup in traffic and then in a scene all too familiar to Dayton fans, Crutcher held onto the ball and then launched a three-point shot which successfully beat the buzzer.
At halftime, Dayton led Duquesne 38-30. Dayton had lost just once in 17 attempts when leading, while Duquesne has played from behind in now three of the last four contests.
Dayton opened the second half on a 7-0 run as Crutcher made a three-point basket and Toppin dunked twice more forcing Dambrot to call a timeout.
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It was clear from that point that Dayton was controlling the game, a contest which saw an increased pace which Duquesne had difficulties adjusting to.
Following a stoppage in play, Dunn-Martin hit his stride, making three-point baskets and diving on the floor defensively to give Duquesne possession. In total it was a 15-2 Duquesne run which brought the Dukes back into the game.
Even when Dayton found ways to try and stop Duquesne’s momentum, but the Dukes responded. Whether it was Dunn-Martin sinking a buzzer-beating two while falling, or Hughes sinking a three-point shot, top bring Duquesne within four points. The Duquesne run allowed for both crowds to get into the game.
Though Dayton stretched its lead back to 11 points, Duquesne refused to quit, making the contest a one-possession affair after Hughes made a dunk.
As game’s end neared, Duquesne had to play the foul game and Toppin calmly sank both free throws. Ultimately the clock was not on Duquesne’s side because of the foul game and a turnover on the offensive end of the court.
Duquesne will resume Atlantic 10 play when it hosts La Salle. Duquesne has dropped three of the last four to the Explorers.