PITTSBURGH — After taking down Rhode Island in one of its most complete performances of the season, Duquesne now sits at 8-8 with a 7-7 record in conference play.
Behind a career-high 28 from Marcus Weathers, Duquesne tied its season-high point total with an 86-point outburst on Saturday night. In the win, the Dukes shot a season-high 52.9% from 3-point range, as well as 53.4% overall from the field.
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While the first half consisted mostly of outside scoring, the second half proved just how versatile Keith Dambrot’s squad is this season, and featured a much stronger inside scoring presence. The Dukes finished the game with 30 points in the paint, a total helped by Weathers as well as Michael Hughes, who finished with ten of his own points.
Coming into this one ranked second-to-last in the conference with an average of 67.9 points per game, Duquesne proved on Saturday night that it could score toe-to-toe with anyone.
CHAD BAKER FLASHES POTENTIAL
Possibly one of the most entertaining players in the entire Atlantic 10 is Duquesne’s Chad Baker. The freshman, who hails from the Dominican Republic, went off Saturday night for 21 points on 5-for-7 shooting, including 3 for 4 from downtown.
Baker showed off his scoring ability in many ways, specifically from outside. He hit numerous gough fadeaways, deep threes, and smooth step-backs en route to his 21-point performance. Those 21 were two away from his career high of 23 which he scored against Fordham earlier this season.
While Baker only came into the game averaging 8.7 points, he once again flashed his ability to be a lethal scorer for the Dukes and a matchup nightmare for the opponent. One of his few weaknesses this season has been his emotions, as he picked up another technical foul in the contest against Rhode Island.
“He said he was speaking Spanish, like I told him to do,” Dambrot said about Baker’s technical late in Saturday’s game. “I said, quit speaking English, just talk in Spanish. I guess his body language wasn’t too good while speaking Spanish. These guys are going to force me to retire if they keep acting like that. “
Other than the technicals, Baker has shown great improvement in his offensive game throughout the entire season, and is now averaging 9.6 points per game. He will surely be a weapon in next week’s tournament as well as the rest of his career under Dambrot.
VETS LEADING THE WAY
While the freshmen have been very productive for the Dukes this season, the play of Duquesne’s veterans cannot be overlooked.
Weathers as well as point guard Tavian Dunn-Martin both turned in exceptional, all-around performances Saturday night, leading the Dukes to victory in the last regular season game of the year.
With Weathers scoring 28 and grabbing 14 rebounds and Dunn-Martin scoring 14, dishing out six assists, and grabbing three rebounds, the younger guys on this Duquesne team have both a dominant forward as well as a polished point guard to look up to.
“We just help the younger guys out by showing them the way and being good examples for them,” Weathers said postgame. “Letting them know whatever advice we have for them. Whatever questions they have for us, don’t be afraid to ask, because we have seen it all, we have been through it all. I feel like them seeing us play and being on the floor with us helps them out with their confidence when they’ve got a couple of guys to rely on that are older and that have been through everything on the floor.”
DAMBROT: “THE MORE WE PLAY, THE BETTER WE PLAY”
After having nine games postponed or cancelled this season, Dambrot and his team are just hoping for one thing through this last week or two of the season: stability.
“I think the more we play, the better we play,” Dambrot said postgame. “Every time we have had a pause we have stunk. Remember, I told you, every team is different with the pauses? We stink with the pauses. So, it’s all mindset. We are good enough to win. Our line is a little small, but we are good enough to win.”
After their loss to Richmond, the Dukes had four days off heading into a matchup with La Salle. They got beat pretty handily by the Explorers, losing 86-75. However, coming back and winning like the Dukes did on Saturday night is a very good sign for the road ahead for Dambrot’s team. An Atlantic 10 tournament run is very much in sight for the squad, and it will look to capitalize in its first game of the tournament next Thursday.