PITTSBURGH — Behind a career-high 28-point performance from senior Marcus Weathers, Duquesne took down the Rams of Rhode Island by a score of 86-75 on Saturday night at home.
The Dukes looked to their veterans and their young guns in this one, with senior Weathers and as well as freshman Chad Baker leading the team in scoring with 28 and 21 points, respectively.
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Weathers played one of his best games of his career on Saturday, going 12 for 20 from the field, including multiple thunderous dunks and and-ones that got the crowd going in the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse. Weathers also grabbed 14 rebounds, tying his career high in that stat as well.
In what has been a very up-and-down season for Keith Dambrot’s Duquesne team, one thing has become more and more apparent as the season has moved on: the Dukes’ freshmen can play.
Young studs Baker and Toby Okani both came to play on Saturday night, with Baker carrying Duquesne in the first half and Okani heating up in the beginning of the second half. After hitting all five of his field goals in the first half including three 3-pointers, Baker finished with 21 points and six rebounds, a very encouraging performance for a player that had been averaging just over eight points per game on the year.
After opening the second half with three buckets in the first few minutes, Okani finished with nine points on 4-for-6 shooting.
Duquesne (8-8, 7-7) shot the lights out in the first half, going 8 for 11 from 3-point range and 15 for 29 from the field. While Rhode Island trailed by as much as 12 in the first half, it cut the deficit to just six at the break. While the Dukes cooled down from 3-point range in the second half, they turned to the paint to get their scoring production.
While the team heads into the tournament at just 8-8, the Dukes are certainly in good shape to make a run next week. The versatility shown in Saturday night’s game is undoubtedly a good sign for a team that has been through so much this season, with cancellations, losses, and transfers.
Rhode Island (10-14, 7-10) was led by its leading scorer Fatts Russell, who contributed 27 points on 8-for-21 shooting as well as five assists. While he struggled to put the ball in the basket in the first half, Russell excelled at getting his teammates involved down low on drive-and-kick opportunities.
After leaving the game with an apparent leg injury, the Rams’ second-leading scorer on the season, Jeremy Sheppard, did not return to the floor in this one. Other than Russell, they looked to Malik Martin and Antwan Walker for scoring help, as the two scored ten and nine, respectively.
This loss was Rhode Island’s sixth in its last seven games, something that is certainly less-than-ideal heading into the conference tournament.
After closing out their regular season tonight, the Dukes will look to carry this momentum into their next game, which will be in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament. The first round will kick off on Wednesday, March 3 in Richmond, Virginia, televised on ESPN+.