The Duquesne Men’s Basketball Team had a strong start to its home Atlantic 10 schedule besting Rhode Island 72-61 in front of a loud 2,887 fans Saturday afternoon at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
Duquesne (11-4/1-1 Atlantic 10) was led by Joe Reece who set a season high with his 18 points. Dae Dae Grant flirted with a double double, settling for 14 points, while tying for his career high of nine rebounds. Tre Clark added 13 points. Kareem Rozier was a +21 on the evening.
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As a team, Duquesne had 18 assists, compared to six turnovers.
Rhode Island (4-9/0-1 A-10) saw Jalen Carey finish with a 15-point, 7-rebound line, while teammates Brayon Freeman and Ishmael Leggett each recorded 10 points. Malik Martin grabbed 11 rebounds for the Rams.
R.J. Gunn earned his first start in a Duquesne uniform and had the hot hand early as Tevin Brewer twice found him for three-point baskets.
After the first media stoppage, Duquesne had the better of the on-court play, and Austin Rotroff had an open dunk after an inside feed from Rozier. Rotroff was unable to come down with a dunk on the play and Rhode Island responded with an 8-0 run, in which the Rams got the better of the inside play and then transitioned defense into offense.
Duquesne would recover and each team would go on small runs with neither fully able to seize control of the game.
Rhode Island had a chance to do that up by six points in the first half, but Grant and Rozier came back in, and Duquesne’s offense regained its pop.
All told, an uneven first half had Duquesne on top 36-35 as Reece was able to draw four fouls and was the sole double-figure scorer after 20 minutes of play.
Duquesne was able to assist on eight of its 11 made shots, while limiting its damage to one turnover.
David Dixon replaced Tre Williams as Duquesne otherwise returned its starting five. Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot appeared disappointed that Williams settled for three unsuccessful hook shots in the first half, most notably, with space being given, him pausing and then missing the shot.
Rhode Island would get the better of the early run as Duquesne was whistled for two early foul calls.
A third trifecta from Gunn got Duquesne going as it went on a 12-2 run against a Ram side, which rushed into multiple actions and decisions which only assisted the Dukes cause.
Duquesne had a chance to stretch the lead going into a media stoppage, but neither Gunn nor Rotroff were able to finish in the post.
The run extended to 21-4 with Rhode Island not being able to respond after a timeout. When Reece buried a three-point shot, Rams coach Archie Miller called for another stoppage of play.
Rhode Island would hit the comeback trail cutting the deficit to five points at the final media timeout.
The Dukes were able to hold Rhode Island scoreless for the final 2:33 of game action, as Rozier encouraged the fans to be vocal.
Duquesne next hosts VCU Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a contest carried by ESPN+.