The Duquesne Dukes aim to snap a two-game losing streak and keep their conference hopes alive Wednesday night hosting Loyola Chicago.
Duquesne (13-7, 3-4 A-10) began the season hot, winning seven of its first eight games. The Dukes stumbled in Atlantic-10 play last week, losing to two conference opponents now ahead of them.
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A 65-56 road loss last Wednesday against St. Bonaventure led to another difficult-to-swallow defeat, this time inside the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse. Fordham entered Pittsburgh and dropped the Dukes’ impressive home record to 11-3 overall in a 65-58 final score, slotting Duquesne ninth in the A-10.
The Dukes have done damage at home in their newly remodeled gym. Falling to Fordham was the first home conference loss of the year and the first defeat on the floor since Dec. 11 against New Mexico State (73-60).
A new challenge awaits in the Loyola Chicago Ramblers, a first-year opponent and newest A-10 member. The Ramblers (7-12, 1-6 A-10) earned their first conference victory, 67-55, against St. Bonaventure. 47 of the 67 points were scored by players off the bench. Transitioning from the Missouri Valley has not been smooth for Loyola Chicago.
Best day of the week 🙌
🆚: Loyola Chicago
🏟️: UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse
💻: (ESPN+) https://t.co/DZ4ts97S8K
#GoDukes || #A10MBB pic.twitter.com/BGFPLaxF9f
— Duquesne Basketball (@DuqMBB) January 25, 2023
Dukes guard Jimmy Clark is third in conference play registering 2 steals per game. Duquesne is the A-10’s third highest scoring team (74.1) while middle of the pack in overall field-goal percentage (43.5%), slotted 9th of 15 teams. However, Keith Dambrot’s team is No. 1 in three-point shooting (36.9%), making close to nine per contest.
The Dukes also clean up the class on both ends. Duquesne owns the second-highest offensive rebounds per game (13.3) among the 15 A-10 teams and 37.1 boards overall. Clark powers the team to an average of 7.7 steals and tied for the fewest turnovers at 11.75 per game.
Turnovers may not tend to be an issue for Duquesne but is a major detriment to the Ramblers. Loyola Chicago gives the ball away over 16 times, one turnover higher than the next closest conference team. Tied for 13th in points per game (67.1), the team thrives on its shot-making ability at 47% from the floor.
Dae Dae Grant paces Duquesne averaging team highs in points (15.1) and free-throw percentage (84.8%) while shooting 41.7% from three. Clark also averages double figures (12.3) and shoots 42.8% overall. Tre Williams plays a factor on the glass as a physical presence down low, tallying five rebounds per appearance through 18 games.
3-7 in their last 10, the Ramblers are led by Philip Alston (14) and Braden Norris (10.5) as main offensive catalysis for first-year head coach Drew Valentine, replacing now Oklahoma coach Porter Moser. Moser guided Cinderella No. 11 seed Loyola Chicago to the Final Four in 2018. The Ramblers were defeated by Ohio State in Pittsburgh during the Round of 64 at PPG Paints Arena, now returning to the city a few blocks away.
Duquesne leads the all-time series 11-6 as the teams meet again for the first time in almost 30 years, dating back to Feb. 18, 1993. A win would keep the Dukes in contention to move up the conference standings and take care of a beatable opponent.