RICHMOND, Va. — Duquesne’s men’s basketball team appeared to be dead, and it sure seemed like the VCU crowd was dancing on the Dukes’ grave.
But even when they were down by 12 points in the second half to a team they had never beaten, the Dukes didn’t give up. They scratched, they clawed and they fought – but most importantly, they started taking care of the ball. They settled down and started playing their game.
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Lamar Norman Jr.’s lay-up in traffic with 5.6 seconds to play in regulation forced overtime, and Baylee Steele’s top-of-the-key three-pointer with under two minutes to play in the extra period proved to be the game-winning shot.
And so, for the first time ever – in eight tries – Duquesne finally beat VCU, winning 80-77 in overtime in front of an announced sold-out crowd of 7,637 fans at the Stuart C. Seigel Center on Tuesday evening.
Not only was it Duquesne’s (21-8; 11-6 A-10) first win over VCU (18-12; 8-9 A-10), but it gave the Dukes a school-record 11 wins in Atlantic-10 play. The victory also gave third-year head coach Keith Dambrot a win over every other school in the conference. Duquesne improved to 8-1 in overtime games under Dambrot too.
For a struggling VCU side, it was their sixth defeat in seven games.
The Dukes were led by Tavian Dunn-Martin, who finished with 23 points and five rebounds. The 5-foot-8 junior from Huntington, West Virginia stepped up when it mattered most, connecting on five three-pointers in the second half to pull Duquesne out of its hole.
Marcus Weathers chipped in 16 points, nine rebounds, three steals, three assists and a block for the Dukes. Star sophomore guard Sincere Carry struggled shooting a bit, going 2-of-7 from the floor and but he made up for it in other areas of the game. The 6-foot-1 Farrell, Pa. native finished with a stat line of seven points, six rebounds and seven assists.
VCU jumped out to a 6-0 lead to start the game and went on to lead by as many as 10 points in the first half. Duquesne had a brief one-point lead in the first half after a 6-0 run of their own, but it wouldn’t last.
If someone was guessing the score of the game by how loud the crowd was, they would’ve thought VCU was up by 30 points. It seemed like the Rams were pointing on a dunk contest and three-point showcase at the same time. They threw down five first-half slams and sank four shots from behind the arc in the opening frame.
But VCU only hit two more three-pointers for the rest of the game. And after forcing the Dukes into nine turnovers in the first half, Duquesne had only seven in the second half and overtime. Duquesne also won the rebounding battle, 40-29.
Marcus Santos-Silva led VCU on the stat sheet, pouring in 24 points, eight rebounds and two assists. He looked unstoppable at times, but the Dukes were able to deny him the ball and stifle him in crunch time.
In overtime, Duquesne never turned the ball over, swished all four of their free throw attempts and held VCU to just 3-of-6 shooting.
Duquesne, now saddled in fourth place in the A-10 standings, have just one game left between now and the start of the conference tournament. They’ll host Richmond on Friday, looking for their fourth straight win.