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Duquesne Falls to Rhode Island, 79-77, Ends Season on 17-Game Losing Streak



WASHINGTON — Duquesne’s season came to an end on Wednesday, as it fell to the 11th-seeded Rhode Island Rams by a score of 79-77 at Capital One Arena.

With just over 20 seconds remaining in the game, Rhode Island’s Sebastian Thomas missed a wide-open layup giving Duquesne the ball with momentum down the court, trailing by seven.

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The Dukes flew down the floor, finding wing Kevin Easley down low for an and-one layup. After Easley hit the free throw, the lead was down to three points.  Then, Rhode Island’s Jeremy Sheppard missed a foul shot on the other end, giving the Dukes another chance to score, this time trailing by just three.

Duquesne guard Jackie Johnson ran down the floor and attacked the rim immediately, hitting a layup and cutting the lead to just point.

After a missed free throw on the other end, Duquesne’s Tyson Acuff came up just short on a half-court, game-winning attempt as time expired, ending Duquesne’s season.

Despite a strong 30-point effort from freshman guard Amir “Primo” Spears, the extremely short-handed and under-sized Dukes could not hold on to a first-half lead, allowing the Rams to take control in the second half.

Duquesne’s starting big man Mounir Hima picked up three fouls within the first seven minutes of the game, causing an already-depleted front court more problems. Severely undersized, the Dukes had a massive challenge ahead of them with Hima in foul trouble.

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For a chance at snapping its losing streak in miraculous fashion, the Dukes first looked to the freshman Spears, who came out of the gates firing. He scored 17 points in a first-half effort filled with two three pointers and seven made shots.

In the second half, Spears picked up right where he left off, hitting his first two attempts, both of the mid-range variety, to extend Duquesne’s lead to a second-half high of six.

However, the Rams came roaring back, going on a 19-6 run following Spears’ first bucket of the half and taking control of the momentum.

After that 19-6 run, when Duquesne’s chances seemed to be dwindling by the second, its supporting cast was not going to let the win slip away just yet.

Wing Kevin Easley hit a jumper, the Dukes forced a turnover, and Johnson converted an and-one layup, and Duquesne was back within one point, with the score reading 55-54.

The Dukes kept the score within reach for the remainder of the way, narrowing the lead all the way down to just one point in the last ten seconds. But in the end, Makhi Mitchell and the Rams came out with the win, as Mitchell scored ten in the second half to lead the way down the stretch.

Antwan Walker scored a team-high 17 points in the win, hitting six of his eight field-goal attempts, including all three of his three-point attempts. In addition to those two, Sheppard added 15 and Ishmael Leggett scored 12 to bury the Dukes.

With the loss, the Dukes finish their season with a record of 6-24, as well as 1-17 in Atlantic 10 play.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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