The Duquesne Men’s Basketball Team led by as many as 11 points in the first half and held off UC Irvine 66-62 Wednesday night at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.
Duquesne (5-2) was paced by Andrei Savrasov’s season highs of 15 points and seven rebounds. David Dixon put together a final line consisting of 12 points, five rebounds and his five blocks matched a career high. Dae Dae Grant contributed 11 points and has achieved double-digit scoring totals in all seven games.
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The Dukes also forced UC Irvine into 20 turnovers, its season high.
UC Irvine (6-2) saw Justin Hohn and Andre Henry each net 13 points and Derin Saran 12 points. The Anteaters won the rebounding battle 39-30 and were a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line.
It was a sluggish start for Duquesne which was 2-for-8 from the field and struggled to put the ball in the basket, especially in the paint as multiple Dukes could not capitalize.
Duquesne was held scoreless for the first 4:20 of regulation.
It was UC Irvine which had the game’s first run at 9-0, which was ended by David Dixon’s loud putback dunk which brought energy to the crowd and Dukes bench alike.
Dixon then got a steal which led to a Jimmy Clark III layup. After an Anteaters miss, the senior guard went on the run and made a no-look pass to Savrasov who sank an open three.
The make gave Savrasov confidence as the graduate student forward grabbed a rebound and then went off to the races, finishing off glass in the paint.
Duquesne’s 11-0 response stretched to a 19-4 run to close out the half and stayed away from foul trouble, leading 35-31 after 20 minutes.
The Dukes showcased its teamwork in the first half, evidenced by 11 assists on 13 made baskets, with eight players recording at least one helper.
Duquesne scored six of the opening eight points in the second half, stretching the run to 27-6, a lot of which came with Saran off the floor.
The Dukes maintained its intensity on the floor as both Kareem Rozier and Savrasov pursued a loose ball which drew an ovation.
Savrasov continued making big plays and Dixon did the same with his blocks and overall post presence as Duquesne kept its edge, but UC Irvine did enough to remain in contention heading down the stretch.
Duquesne’s lack of execution down the stretch allowed for UC Irvine to go on an 8-0 run, trailing by three points with just over a minute to play.
After UC Irvine elected to foul Dixon and he missed the one-in-one, the Anteaters had a chance to draw closer but Hohn turned the ball over.
Grant was able to secure the ball and the 92.1% free throw shooter, sank both of his opportunities.
In crunch time, Duquesne had to get the ball in and found Dixon open. The 45.4% free throw shooter sank both. When UC Irvine’s home run pass landed in Savrasov’s hands, the Dukes held the ball securing victory.
The victory marks the third time in the last five seasons that Duquesne has opened November with at least five wins and second consecutive season accomplishing the feat.
Duquesne will have a week between games, after which it will head to Huntington where it will take on Marshall.