The Duquesne men’s basketball team, in their first true road game of the 2021-22 season, blew a big double-digit lead against Marshall and lost 72-71 Saturday night at the Cam Henderson Center in Huntington, W.V.
The Dukes (3-6) once led the Thundering Herd (5-3) by 17 with a little more than six minutes in the first half and had a great performance by first-year guard Amir “Primo” Spears, who scored 23 points, but were unable to maintain their big advantage and lose their second straight game.
Duquesne led 7-3 after the first media timeout and two quick baskets, the last one being an alley-oop slam by junior guard Leon Ayers III from first-year guard Tyson Acuff, gave Duquesne an 11-3 lead, forcing Marshall to call a 30-sec timeout with 14:22 left in the first half.
The Dukes continued to take advantage of poor shooting from the Thundering Herd and built on their lead. First-year guard Amir “Primo” Spears scored 10 points in the first half, including eight off two 3-pointers and a mid-range jumper in four minutes, increasing the Dukes’ lead to 28-11 with 6:12 remaining.
Marshall was able to make a comeback by switching their offensive strategy. From the beginning to the latter half of the first period, Marshall was relying on getting some offense from 3-point range. After starting the game, 0-13 from behind the arc, the Thundering Herd chose to attack the paint and look for mid-range jumpers.
The new strategy worked well, as the Thundering Herd went on a 15-5 run to close out the half and cut the lead to seven, 33-26. Junior guard Taevion Kinsey and first-year forward Obinna Anochili led the Thundering Herd during the run as they scored 11 of the 15 points.
The Dukes started off well in the second half, keeping the lead at 11 twice, with a 37-26 lead at 19:19 remaining and then 46-35 with 13:44 to go.
Marshall finally managed to get their 3-point shooting, as Anochili-Killen made one with 13:33 remaining, ending a streak of 16 straight misses to open the game.
That 3-pointer started a 13-0 run over the next three minutes, which included two more 3-pointers, and gave the Thundering Herd a 48-46 lead with 10:42 remaining.
The next 10 minutes were back-and-forth between the two teams, as the biggest lead between the two teams was a six point lead by the Thundering Herd. Both teams were able to get scoring contributions from six players each, but Spears stood out for the Dukes, scoring 10 of his 23 total points for the Dukes in this period.
Duquesne went on a 7-0 run, thanks to two jumpers from Spears and a 3-pointer from Ayers, to take a 69-68 lead with 2:31 left.
After Anochili-Killen tied the game with one made free throw, sophomore forward Kevin Easley Jr. made a jumper to give the Dukes a 71-69 lead with 1:58 remaining.
With a chance to increase the lead, Spears missed a jumper for Duquesne with 14 seconds remaining. Kinsey grabbed the rebound for Marshall, got it out on the fast break and passed it to redshirt sophomore guard Andrew Taylor in the corner, who made the go-ahead 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining, taking a 72-71 lead.
The final possession for the Dukes saw Spears get the ball in his hands, but his layup attempt was blocked by Thundering Herd sophomore guard/forward Marko Sarenac. After confirmation by the officials, the clock was out of time and the Dukes had lost.
Duquesne will travel to Chicago on Tuesday, December 7, to take on Big East opponent, DePaul (6-1) at 8:30 p.m.