PITTSBURGH — Duquesne head coach Keith Dambrot believes Thursday night’s loss to Marshall occurred in the final 5:06 of the first half, which is when the Thundering Herd went on a 16-0 run to increase its lead to 46-27 at halftime. Fourteen first-half turnovers contributed greatly to the 19-point deficit, as Marshall scored 21 points off the giveaways.
“We made 14 turnovers in the first half, and they’re not even pressing us,” Dambrot said. “We just had one of those nights. I think we average 11, and we had 14 in the first half. This is really the first time that we got hit in the mouth really hard other than at Kentucky, and we actually battled back at Kentucky, as well. But again, you have to play more perfect than that if you get beat up that badly.”
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Dambrot regrets not calling multiple timeouts late in the first half during Marshall’s 16-0 scoring surge.
“I should have called a second or third timeout,” Dambrot admitted. “I thought we’d battle through it, and we didn’t.”
Dambrot said Marshall executed well defensively, but felt it was more on the Dukes playing carelessly.
“Overall, it was just self-inflicted. We got sloppy,” Dambrot said. “You figure we had 14 turnovers in the first half, our bench had 10 of them. (Jimmy) Tre Clark had two bad ones right in a row. But, you know, you got to live with some of his stuff because he’s going to do some good things, too. Quincy (McGriff) hasn’t had any turnover issues but he did tonight.”
The Dukes cleaned things up and turned the ball over just three times in the second half. They also cut Marshall’s lead down to five points, but just couldn’t get over the hump.
“I told them, ‘If you want to win, you have to be perfect in the second half,’” Dambrot said. “And I felt like we made a big jump, but we weren’t perfect. For instance, missed free-throws when it mattered. We had some shots that could have really tightened it up that we didn’t make.”
The Dukes were a dreadful 1 of 7 at the foul line down the stretch. Dambrot was happy with the hustle and effort by his team to haul in 25 rebounds, but there’s a caveat to it.
“We missed a lot of shots,” Dambrot said about the Dukes’ 34.2 shooting percentage from the field.
Despite the disappointing end of the first half, Dambrot was pleased with the fight and grit that his unit showed against a tough Marshall team.
“They didn’t give up. They could have given up 100 times, right?” Dambrot said. “Every time we came back they kind of popped us again. Down 19 at halftime. It reminded me a little of the Rhode Island game when were down 18 in this building and came all the way back and beat them. We just couldn’t get over the hump tonight. We just weren’t consistent, we were erratic most of the night.”
Duquesne dropped to 7-2 with the loss, marking the Dukes’ first defeat since falling to No. 4 Kentucky on Nov. 11. Duquesne is back in action on Sunday against New Mexico State at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse. Tipoff is at 4 p.m.