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Duquesne Basketball

Duquesne Looks to Enact Revenge on UMass in Final Home Game



Duquesne fell to Massachusetts on Jan. 28 on the road 87-79 in a game that put them below .500 in Atlantic 10 play.

After a great start to the season, Duquesne struggled to play consistently, good basketball in conference play, going 3-4 in the month of January and 4-5 overall in A-10 games.

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Against UMass, Duquesne committed 29 fouls and saw three players foul out. UMass took advantage of this and made 30 of their 39 attempts at the foul line en route to their victory over Duquesne. UMass’ 39 free throw attempts in that game is tied for the most head coach Keith Damrbot has faced from an opponent in his long career.

The Dukes (19-10 overall, 9-7 Atlantic 10)  played some of their best basketball of the season in the month of February following this loss. They started the month with a 4-0 record, their best start to a season since they joined the Atlantic 10 in 1976-77.

Duquesne has lost two of its last three games, but competed to the final second in those losses. They fell to a good Saint Louis squad on the road, 85-80, on Feb. 18 and lost late to Davidson at home last time out, 71-67, on Sunday, Feb. 26.

Those losses will most likely prevent the Dukes from earning a double-bye in the Atlantic 10 Tournament that starts next Tuesday, March 7 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Dukes do have a chance to finish with a No. 5 spot if they win their final two games to finish the regular season.

Duquesne takes on UMass in a rematch on Wednesday, March 1 at 7 p.m. at UPMC Cooper Field House, the final home game of the season. The venue has functioned as a “stronghold” for Duquesne during this season, as they hold a 15-4 overall record and 5-2 in Atlantic 10 play.

The Minutemen (14-14 overall, 5-11 Atlantic 10) have played some of the worst basketball in the conference since their victory over the Dukes on Jan. 28.

They lost the next five games and lost six of their seven games in the month of February. Their lone win came against rival Rhode Island, a team that is 8-20 overall, 4-12 in conference play and currently on a seven-game losing streak. The Minutemen lost five of those games by double-digits, including their most recent loss, a 72-54 blowout on the road to Dayton on Feb. 22.

UMass is the third worst defensive team in Atlantic 10 play, allowing an average of 75.4 points per game. They also allow the fifth worst defensive field goal percentage, as their conference opponents shoot 45.4% against them.

The Minutemen do rebound the ball well, ranking No. 1 in the conference with 36.9 rebounds per game. They rank No. 7 in defensive rebounds at 34.1 per game, but are tied at No. 2 with Fordham for 12.1 offensive rebounds per game, both in Atlantic 10 play, respectively.

They also shoot a solid 74.1% from the foul line in conference play, good for No. 4 in the Atlantic 10

First-year guard RJ Lewis scored a career high 31 points for UMass in the win over Duquesne, making 17 of his 18 free throws along the way. He currently leads UMass in scoring in conference play and ranks No. 18 in the A-10 averaging 13.9 points per game.

Junior forward Dyondre Dominguez scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against the Dukes in their first matchup. He also made three of his four attempts from 3-point range, showing his versatility in many facets of the game.

First-year guard Keon Thompson is the facilitator for the Minutemen. His 3.2 assists per game and 1.8 assist/turnover ratio is good for No. 15 and No. 8 in Atlantic 10 play, respectively.

UMass also possesses a dominant presence in the paint in senior forward/center Wildens Leveque, who averages 1.1 blocks per game in A-10 play, which ranks No. 8.

Duquesne needs their best play from junior guards Dae Dae Grant and Jimmy Clark II going into this matchup against UMass

Grant scored a team-high 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for his first career double-double in the loss against UMass. He also scored 20 points against Davidson on Sunday, making four of his seven attempts from behind the arc. Clark scored 14 of his 15 points in the final 5:42 of the game to help mount a Duquesne comeback from down 16 points early on in the second half.

The Dukes also need to play better basketball in the beginning games and not fall behind. They fell behind to both the Billikens and the Wildcats and had to make big comebacks to put themselves in contention to try and win those games. That method is not sustainable and won’t lead to great results if the Dukes are to do well the rest of this week and at the Atlantic 10 Tournament next week.

A win for Duquesne against UMass Wednesday night would seal a bye from the first day of the conference tournament, meaning they wouldn’t play until next Wednesday, March 8.

It would also make it the 16th home win on the season, tying it with the 1949-50 and 1971-72 seasons for most home wins, the eighth winning season in program history in the Atlantic 10, 10 conference wins for the first time since 2018-19 and 20 wins for the third time 42 years.

The Dukes should rely on their strong defense, particularly as they are No. 2 in steals in A-10 play, averaging 8.75 per game. This will allow them to build an early lead and get the fans to build their confidence throughout the game and onto victory.

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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