Despite all of the ups and downs this season provided, the Duquesne men’s basketball team still had an opportunity to secure a winning record in Atlantic 10 play for the third time in coach Keith Dambrot’s four seasons with the team, however any hope of that ended with an 85-65 Wednesday night road loss at La Salle.
“We were bad emotionally, bad physically, bad mentally, we were just no good,” Dambrot said. “It was probably as poorly as I’ve ever had a team play. We can’t make any excuses, we just have to play better than that. If you don’t come ready to play and aren’t quite good emotionally and mentally, that’s going to happen to you.”
Duquesne (7-8, 6-7 Atlantic 10) was led by Marcus Weathers who scored 23 points on the evening. Andre Harris scored a career-high with his 11 points and Toby Okani matched his output. The Dukes were a +10 in the paint on the evening.
La Salle (9-14, 6-10 A-10) saw David Beatty score 22 points. Jahmir Brickus added 17 points for the Explorers. Additionally, Christian Ray achieved a double-double consisting of 14 points and 14 rebounds. Sherif Kenney also contributed 14 points.
In the loss, Duquesne forced 22 turnovers, but were unable to capitalize, and also tied a season-high with 17 miscues of its own.
“We had our opportunities,” said Dambrot. “We just didn’t have it. It was probably one of the worst games we’ve played, it happens sometimes. Not happy about it obviously, just have to fix the problem.”
Duquesne has now lost six consecutive contests at La Salle.
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) February 25, 2021
. It took Dambrot longer than normal to participate in the postgame press conference, and that was because he had to define and review key concepts, not on the court, but rather from an intangible standpoint.
“We talked about trust, loyalty and commitment,” he said. “We defined those terms starting with commitment. When things go poorly, you find out who is really committed. We weren’t very mature tonight, we let things snowball on us. We weren’t good in any aspect.”
Following the challenge, Dambrot seemed to believe his message resonated with a lot of the team, though the true test will be Saturday against Rhode Island.
Dambrot estimated that Duquesne will return from Philadelphia around 4 a.m. Thursday morning, and the team has elected to practice later that night, which is a break from the norm.
Under normal circumstances, Duquesne practices in the morning and rarely opts to practice at night, but the team opted to take this step instead of taking the day off.
Indeed Duquesne has one game left to earn some momentum before the Atlantic 10 championships start and it is clear that the focus has shifted to there.
“You know how kids are, most of them will be fine,” said Dambrot. “It’s not ideal but each game is a mutually-exclusive event and so is each practice. Maybe a good old-fashioned ass kicking might be good for them, or maybe it won’t be. We’ll find out how much fight they really have.”
. Once again whistles wreaked havoc for Duquesne as Michael Hughes was assessed two technical fouls, nearly five minutes apart and as a result had an early exit.
Though it never appeared that Hughes raised his voice, it was clear from the ESPN+ broadcast that something was said in both instances and Tim Clougherty was the official in proximity for both of those whistles which were fairly quick.
The two whistles, bring Hughes up to 41 fouls, the highest total of any Duquesne player.
“I love Mike Hughes but we’ve got to quit talking,” Dambrot said. “We had a heart-to-heart after the game, I told him the truth.”
La Salle was in the middle of a 13-0 run, which broke the contest open and the Explorers led by double digits from then on.
As previously mentioned, Duquesne has had its fair share of technical fouls, with both Hughes and Baker each being written up on multiple occasions throughout the season.
Beyond the talk Dambrot gave his starting center, Dambrot still seemed pleased with the performance Hughes has given, something which has been a constant on the former’s end.
Still Dambrot did divulge that Hughes’s back was bothering him, which could have been a contributing factor to the technical fouls.
“He didn’t feel very good and he wasn’t that involved and he just lost it emotionally,” said Dambrot. “I’m not mad at him, you just can’t do that. I’ve got a lot of respect for the year he’s had. We’ve got to keep counseling him but still stay behind him, because that’s commitment too. We can’t play without him either, we’re not a very good team without him, we’re just run-of-the-mill.”