Playing for the first time in 18 days, the Duquesne men’s basketball team came back from multiple double-digit deficits, but it was not enough as it fell 79-72 Saturday evening to Richmond at The Robins Center.
“I’m disappointed we lost,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot said. “If not for a loose ball here-and-there, a little bit of bad luck at the end and they made a couple more than we did. Our guys competed hard, as long as we do that, we’ll win more than we lose.”
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Duquesne (7-7, 6-6 Atlantic 10) was paced by Michael Hughes who had 20 points, nine rebounds and his four steals were one off a career high. Marcus Weathers (12 points and nine rebounds), Chad Baker (12 points) and Andre Harris (a career-high 10 points) also were key contributors towards Duquesne’s cause.
Richmond (12-5, 5-3 A-10) saw Jacob Gilyard and Blake Francis each lead with 17 points. Tyler Burton had 16 points and eight rebounds, while Nathan Cayo notched 13 points. Grant Golden had a final line of 10 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
“A lot of it is experience,” Gilyard said to reporters after the game. “We made a couple of big-time shots towards the end and made a couple of free throws.”
. Looking back at this game, Duquesne will most regret a lack of consistency on the defensive end.
Duquesne trailed by 15 points in the first half and as a team allowed Richmond to shoot 65.2% from the field, and 83.3% from three-point range in the game’s opening 20 minutes.
“Had we not made as many defensive mistakes as we did, I feel like we win by 10,” Dambrot said. “We had a good plan, our guys knew the plan and we didn’t execute it well. We don’t win many games when we give up 40 at halftime.”
Instead of folding after the first half, Duquesne placed its emotions under better control, and even though it trailed by 14 early on, came back to take the lead with 1:59 remaining in regulation.
Though Dambrot felt Duquesne was right there to win and he had a good feeling about earning a victory, Richmond made baskets and continued to get to the free-throw line, which sank the Dukes.
. Perhaps the most encouraging thing for Duquesne was Maceo Austin’s return to the court. Sure, Austin did not score in 20 minutes, but he saw his first action since Jan. 5 versus Davidson.
Following the Davidson game, Austin opted to take a leave of absence for personal reasons. Less than two weeks later, he returned to practice. He did accompany the team to games both on the road and home contests which were held at LaRoche University.
Ultimately the decision for when he wanted to put a uniform on again fell to him and Saturday was the day, though Dambrot stated this move would have happened sooner.
“He was ready a couple of weeks ago, but then the COVID hit, so he’s been happy and practicing well,” he said. “He knows how to play, I’m just glad he got back out there, I’m happy for him.”
. Ryan Murphy’s name has noticeably not been called in the last four contests including Saturday, which given the COVID break dates back to Jan. 23.
Earlier during this stretch, Murphy had a death in his inner circle but he has been back and competing both in practice and pregame warmups, now, it appears that the reason is entirely different, a shortening of Duquesne’s rotation.
Indeed Duquesne went with nine players and barring further foul trouble, those names appear to be the ones that will see the court.
Dambrot did make clear it was not practice related as he has checked that box off and has kept a good attitude over the of playing time.
“We’ve shortened up our rotation and decided to go in the direction we’ve gone,” Dambrot said. “It’s not fortunate for him, but I don’t coach very well when I think about anything but winning. I feel for anyone that doesn’t play, but I can’t think like that. He’s done well in practice and had a good attitude, so I don’t have any complaints.”
Duquesne travels to face La Salle Wednesday. La Salle is coming off a 91-82 overtime loss at Saint Joseph’s which handed the Hawks it first conference victory of the season.
The contest against La Salle to be the last of the regular season, but Friday the Atlantic 10 announced Duquesne will host Rhode Island next Saturday, which Dambrot opines will help his team.
“I think the better shape we get in, the better we play,” He said. “We need to win some going in. For us we are going to play the same no matter who we play, it’s obvious. Most of the good teams in the league really don’t want to play us, because we’re a tough out and we’re strong as hell. We are one of the most physical teams in the league other than Saint Louis. You have to be prepared for a wrestling match when you play us.”
HE SAID IT
“Mike’s the most underappreciated player in this league. People can say whatever they want. They may not like the way he acts or his emotion, but he’s a winning guy. I’d think anyone in this league would like to have him on their team. He’s been competitive, is a good teammate and always plays the right way. He twisted his ankle and came back in. I knew he was going to come back in… I know him, I’ve been around him for five years now. He’d have to be near dead not to play, that’s the way that guy is.” – Dambrot on Mike Hughes and his effort Saturday
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) February 20, 2021