PITTSBURGH — The Duquesne men’s basketball team earned its second consecutive win with an 88-79 victory over American Sunday afternoon at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
Duquesne (3-4) saw four players achieve double-figure point totals, led by Leon Ayers III’s 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting. The 23 points matched a season best and his six rebounds tied for high marks.
Primo Spears added career-high 21 points. Spears also recorded six assists and six steals over his 37 minutes. The six steals were one shy of a program record.
Duquesne made 26 free throws in Sunday’s contest, while American took seven free throws as a team. Kevin Easley and Tre Williams scored 14 and 13 points respectively for Duquesne.
American (2-5) was led by Colin Small’s team-best 22 points and seven assists. Stacy Beckton Jr scored 12 of his 17 points in the first half, and fouled out late in the second half. Matt Rogers added 12 points for the Eagles.
It was Williams who got the scoring started for Duquesne scoring the team’s first five points, but the Dukes found themselves in an early hole.
Duquesne’s sideline always charts defensive kills which is when it earns three consecutive starts. As the team shouted that its next stop would be a kill, Smalls drove towards the glass and made a driving layup, which started a 7-0 American run.
The first half proved to be prolific displays of offense for both sides, as Duquesne shot 59.1% from the field, and American 51.9%.
Duquesne’s defense had trouble handling dribbling penetration, often being late on the first step or getting caught watching American run its actions, which allowed for extended possessions, or in some cases second-chance opportunities.
On the offensive side, after Williams’s spurts, Duquesne was settling for mid-range shots and also took attempts at scoring without a player set in position to earn an offensive rebound.
While Duquesne did not pick up its first foul until 6:08 remained in the first half, American had three of its starters pick up two fouls.
American led by eight points three separate times in the first half, but Austin Rotroff’s tenacity and ability to be at the right place at the right time allowed for Duquesne to get back into the contest.
A 9-1 scoring run, capped off by Spears’s buzzer-beating three-point shot, allowed for Duquesne to take a 38-37 lead into halftime.
Duquesne scored the first five points of the second half though American quickly rallied back to its original one-point deficit before the Dukes used a 7-0 run which created separation.
Tyson Acuff maneuvered his way into a steal and dunk then earned a deflection in the run, which ended on an Easley three-point basket, which was followed by an American timeout.
Up seven following American’s third timeout, Acuff lobbed the ball from beyond the three-point line to Spears who finished.
The basket was part of Spears’s multi-dimensional half where he found success scoring the basketball, applying defensive pressure and advancing the ball to teammates
American had one last rally in it cutting the deficit to six points, but Spears floated in a mid-range jumper and on Duquesne’s next trip down the court, Beckton fouled out.
As the game reached its conclusion, American tried to extend the game by fouling and made some timely shots as Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot showed clear frustration with the defensive miscues, though the Dukes were able to consistently made from the free-throw line to put away the game.
Duquesne will host Bowling Green Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the nightcap of a doubleheader with the women’s team. Both contests will be carried by ESPN+.