In a close game that went back-and-forth the entire second half, Duquesne (4-7) was able to get the win, 64-62, over New Hampshire (4-4) thanks to a last second shot from first-year guard Amir “Primo” Spears.
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) December 11, 2021
The win ends a three game losing streak for the Dukes and improves their record at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse to 3-3 on the year. While Spears got the final shot, four other players were in double-digits in scoring for the Dukes and they had a 28-17 advantage on bench points over the Wildcats.
The win for the Dukes was also important in that they only committed three turnovers, which is a school record for least turnovers committed in a game.
Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot said that he was pleased with the win, noted how New Hampshire were a good team, but that he also wasn’t happy about how the win went down.
“We looked, like, emotionless at times,” Duquesne head coach Dambrot said after the game. So I don’t want to be negative, but like, it’s only freakin’ December, it’s not like diggin’ ditches man, you’re supposed to have some fun out there. And it’s a maturity issue. It’s not all of us, it’s a couple of us. I can’t do that, I’m not in the emotion business. Overall, pretty good, but a couple guys got to do better.
The Dukes came out strong early, taking a 7-2 lead into the first media timeout. They continued to build on their lead, getting up to 11, 17-6, with 11:36 left in the first half.
The ensuing action of the first half saw each team make two runs, with New Hampshire cutting into the deficit and Duquesne building on their lead.
The Wildcats made a 9-2 run to cut the Dukes’ lead to 19-15, but the Dukes responded with a 6-2 run to stay on top, 25-17.
New Hampshire then cut the deficit to one, 27-26, going on another 9-2 run. Duquesne were able to finish the half strong up 31-26, with a jumper from first-year guard Tyson Acuff and a layup from junior forward Austin Rotroff.
Rotroff played an instrumental role for the Dukes’ in the first half, playing 12 minutes, scoring six points and grabbing six rebounds to keep his team in the game in the first half.
The Wildcats were finally able in the second half to get the lead, their first of the game, at 38-36 with 15:19 remaining. They were able to get the lead thanks to two 3-pointers from junior forward Jayden Martinez, which was part of a 7-0 run.
Down four, Duquesne took the lead, 46-42, on an 8-0 run with Rotroff getting a dunk and a close shot, while first-year guard Jackie Johnson III converted an and-one opportunity from off a driving layup.
That four point lead was the biggest for either team going forward, as each team traded baskets down the stretch.
When the Wildcats made two 3-pointers to take a three point lead, the Dukes responded with two 3-pointers of their own to take a one point lead.
New Hampshire was able to stay in the game due to their great shooting from the foul line, making 11 of their 12 free throws in the second half. In contrast, Duquesne shot a poor 5 for 11 from the free throw line in the second half themselves.
In the final two minutes, senior guard Josh Hopkins made a tough mid-range jumper for the Wildcats to give them a 60-59 lead.
Spears took the ball down the next possession and after getting his own rebound off a bad shot off the side of the backboard, was able to get the shot to go and a blocking foul was called on redshirt first-year guard Blondeau Tchoukuiegno for the and-one.
The foul itself was controversial, as Spears held his arm out and likely should’ve been called for an offensive foul, but instead, he converted his and-one opportunity and the Dukes led by two, 62-60.
On the ensuing New Hampshire possession, junior Center, Tayler Mattos went up for a shot and was blocked by Duquesne sophomore forward/center Tre Williams. The block was instead called a foul, sparking outrage from the Duquesne crowd, as Williams was able to get the ball and did not touch Mattos on the shot.
Mattos was able to make both foul shots and tied the game at 62-62 with 1:07 remaining.
Both teams missed on their next possessions before Spears was able to get the ball in his hands for the final possession with 24 seconds left.
Spears was able to get an iso on Tchoukuiegno, who gave Spears just a little bit of space to take the shot, to which Spears obliged, making a mid-range jumper to give the Dukes a 64-62 lead and the win.
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) December 11, 2021
“Just to get to my spot,” Spears said of his thought process going into his game-winning shot. “I really wanted to get to that elbow, but the way they were sinking in, I really couldn’t get there. I knew where I was going the moment I got that rebound. I just appreciate coach D [Dambrot] for believing in me.”
Rotroff, who is coming off a leg injury from the preseason, played his best game of the season, scoring 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds, falling just short of a double-double on a season-high 24 minutes. Rotroff said that he wish he got the double-double, but noted how important it was for his team to get a close win after losing some earlier this season.
“It feels good,” Rotroff said after the win. “I mean a lot of those close games were a lot of bad luck, I think. A lot of tough shots that were made. It was kind of deflating so it just feels good to get back in the win column, even though it wasn’t super pretty. We got a lot of stuff to work on, but it just feels good to be back in the win column.
Duquesne will have next week off before going to Akron to take on UC Irvine on Sunday, December 19th at 1 p.m.