Duquesne was looking to get a big win over a tough Dayton team Saturday afternoon at UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse. Instead, Dayton was able to stifle Duquesne’s offense and took advantage of their scoring opportunities to get an easy win, 72-52.
The Dukes (6-9 overall, 1-2 A-10) shot poorly throughout the game compared to the Flyers (11-6 overall, 3-1 A-10), as they made 40.4% of their shots compared to the Flyers’ 53.4%.
Dukes’ head coach Keith Dambrot said that the lack of rotation due to players being out and the Flyers’ movement on offense made it tough for his team to score and build continuity on offense.
“I felt like we played with good effort the first half…I didn’t think we had any energy in the second half for any reason…they [Dayton] moved us so much in the first half that we tired in the second half,” Dambrot said. “We didn’t have shit in the second half. We didn’t have any energy.”
Duquesne started off with an early lead, 7-4, in the first three minutes as sophomore forward/center Tre Williams made two baskets down low and junior guard Leon Ayers III made a 3-pointer.
Dayton responded with a 17-3 run that went over seven minutes to the midway point of the first half, with four different players contributing to the run, to take a 21-10 lead.
Both teams went back-and-forth with baskets and the Dukes were able to put pressure on the Flyers, as first-year guard Jackie Johnson III and sophomore forward Kevin Easley Jr. made two quick baskets right out of the third media timeout, causing the Flyers to take a quick timeout with 5:10 remaining.
Dayton and Duquesne traded baskets the rest of the period, but an alley-oop from redshirt first-year guard Koby Brea to first-year forward DaRon Holmes II gave Dayton a 12 point lead, 40-28, at halftime.
The Flyers put on a good shooting display in the first half, as they made 17 of their 31 field goals, 54.8%. Much of this good shooting was from the great looks they got against the Dukes. Some of these were easy passes inside to Holmes, who led at the half with 12 points as he was able to get inside of Williams and make some dunks.
But the best of their opportunities came from behind the arc, as the ball movement around the perimeter allowed for good looks, with the Flyers going 6-for-12 on 3-point attempts.
Dayton kept their gameplan from the first half going into the second half and it worked well, starting on a 11-4 run in the first four minutes. Holmes was a big part of this run, scoring six points on three ferocious dunks that sent the sizable away Dayton crowd into a frenzy.
The Dukes had no luck trying to cut into this lead the rest of the game as the Flyers were able to continue to score throughout the second half and keep the game in their control.
Duquesne struggled to find rhythm offensively, which was due to good defense by Dayton, but also because Duquesne struggled to take good shots that might have changed the game in their favor.
The defense by Dayton was man-to-man, like Duquesne, but excelled because of their great help defense if someone lost their man, and also the use of the double team to trap Duquesne players, into a turnover or a low-percentage shot.
This led to the Dukes taking long 3-point shots and contested mid-range jumpers and layups, which led to an ineffective offense. Duquesne shot 5-for-19 from 3-point range, 26.3% in the game overall and were 1-for-8, 12.5%, in the second half. They also shot a poor 10-for-27, 37%, from the field overall in the second half.
“Our shot selection gets us in trouble and it becomes a mudslide,” Dambrot said about the Dukes’ shooting. One guy does, so another guy does it. So I’m just going to have to keep them out when they do it. It’s simple.”
Dayton were led offensively by Holmes with 18 points, all of which came with 15 minutes to go in the game and also by redshirt first-year guard Kobe Elvis, who scored 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the floor, and a perfect 4-for-4 from 3-point range.
Another important stat for the Flyers was that they were able to get 19 assists to 10 turnovers compared to the Dukes’ eight assists and 12 turnovers, showing how effective their passing was in the win.
Junior forward Austin Rotroff was also not playing for the Dukes today as he was harboring pain in his foot.
Duquesne will play again next Friday, January 21, in a nationally televised home game on ESPN2, against St. Bonaventure at 7:00 p.m.