The Duquesne Dukes (6-7, 1-0 A-10) defeated the UMass Minutemen (7-7, 0-2 A-10) 78-74 in their first conference game of the 2021-22 season at the Mullins Center in Amherst on Saturday, Jan. 8.
Playing in their first game in 20 days because of COVID-related postponements, the Dukes struggled to shake off the rust early on, making just two of their first 13 shots.
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The Minutemen played aggressive as the Dukes tried to find a rhythm, utilizing a full court press to force mistakes.
Forward Trent Buttrick, a graduate transfer from Penn State, shot a three to extend UMass’s lead to 23-12 with six to go in the first half. Duquesne then forced turnovers on back to back possessions, closing the deficit to four as the Dukes began to press.
Freshmen guards Jackie Johnson III and Primo Spears, who led the Dukes in scoring with 27 and 21 points, respectively, made back to back threes for the Dukes to take a 27-25 lead with 2:27 remaining in the half. From there the game opened into a fast-paced, back and forth affair on the way to a 31-30 Duquesne lead at the half.
The Dukes repeatedly tried to stretch their lead to double digits early in the second half, but the Minutemen reeled them back within a score each time.
Johnson and UMass guard C.J. Kelly earned technical fouls for shoving each other following a scrum for a loose ball with 9:17 to go. Johnson responded immediately with an emphatic three pointer to stretch the lead to eight.
Duquesne center Tre Williams fouled out with 3:37 to go as the Dukes held a 68-62 lead. The Minutemen went on a 9-6 run to pull within three with 29 seconds to go.
Johnson made a jumper and two free throws in the waning seconds to ice the game.