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Inside the Dukes: Team Clicking At Right Time



Duquesne basketball

David Dixon had been waiting nearly a month for the rematch between his Duquesne Men’s Basketball Team and Saint Joseph’s.

In round one, the Hawks were able to close the contest, one of three in which the Dukes did not have Dae Dae Grant and Dixon felt his team had let one slip away.

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That contest was the last of a five-game losing streak.

Fastforward to Saturday and the Dukes responded with a 66-56 victory at the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse.

“That five-game losing streak taught us a lot,” Dixon reflected. “That was one of the teams we really wanted to beat because that was a close game, we really shouldn’t have lost it. We wanted to make sure we would win it our way and that’s what we did.”

Once again, this game was a patented Keith Dambrot teeth-pulling contest as the effort started on the defensive side of the ball.

Saint Joseph’s shot 20.6% from the field in a first half which featured the Hawks struggling from distance, a fact evidenced by a 3-for-22 effort from beyond the arc. Those efforts comprised 64.7% of the shot selection.

Sure, the Hawks were without Christ Essandoko this time around, but it was a struggle for them at times to put the ball in the basket and the body language made that even more evident.

“They’re not going to get easy buckets on us,” determined Dixon. “They like to score within the first 10 seconds, and we tried to grind them out for the whole 30 and I feel that did a lot for us.”


It is no secret that Dambrot has long wanted Jakub Necas to succeed, but offensively the pieces had not come together yet, which made his leash shorter.

That changed Saturday.

When Dixon grabbed a steal, Jimmy Clark III fed Necas for a three-point basket, it was his first made triple since Nov. 17 and his fifth on the campaign.

“I think it wasn’t only about this day,” Necas assessed. “I just put in work every day and trying my best. I knew the biggest struggle was basically my offense. I’ve been working on that every day, and everything just paid off and I’m really glad for that.”

Necas would have an afternoon where he posted a career-high 10 points, while defensively creating havoc and grabbing four rebounds.

Defense was what Necas attributed as his starting point and something which has helped build his confidence, something he attributes for his pair of threes falling through the bottom of the net.

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Seeing the first triple go in appeared to mentally free him up and two plays later, he blocked a shot coming out of a Saint Joseph’s timeout.

“It was good for him to make something because he spends a lot of time at it,” explained Dambrot. “The only reason I played him is I didn’t think our main guys at the four spot had a rough time of it, so I went with him, and he delivered the goods. It’s a tribute to him staying ready. He’s always ready, he’s a professional. His mind is in the right place so that when he got his opportunity, he made the most out of it.”

Duquesne played 12 Saturday but when Dambrot opened in his media availability it was about Necas, the player who comes in first every day and got what he deserved.

“When you have reasonable ability and spend enough time at it, eventually something good is going to happen,” he said.


Dixon made his first start since Jan. 3, a change made after Dusan Mahorcic was away from the team for multiple days to celebrate the birth of his baby daughter, a fact confirmed by the USA broadcast during the game.

Previously, Dambrot held Dixon out of the starting lineup to keep him fresh and also keep him out of foul trouble.

All Dixon did in response was post 17 points and a career-high 10 rebounds, good for his first ever double-double.

“It was a battle well fought,” Dixon offered. “I’m glad to get those 10 rebounds. I was stuck at eight for the last five minutes and my teammates were yelling at me off the bench, ‘Dave go get last two rebounds’ and I got them. The last one actually bounced off of Jakub, I just ran in there and got it. I was like ‘yes, yes, I got it.’ I’m happy to get a career high 10 rebounds and hopefully can build off of that and get more.”

Often at the end of practices, Dixon practices his three-point shots with associate head coach Dru Joyce III where they bump the basketball off of each other and then try to be the first to drain a shot from long range.

Dixon was given space by the Hawks and made them pay as the crowd erupted in approval. It was Dixon’s second three-point basket both of this season and his career.

“It was really nice knowing I hit a three on the home court,” said Dixon. “It shows all of my hard work has paid off. It kind of sucks my parents weren’t there but I would love for them to see that.”

After coming into the season trying to get back to full strength, Dixon has been Duquesne’s most consistently impressive post player, and the three pointer is the latest example of expanding his game.

Dambrot impressed upon reporters that when Dixon is fresh, he is really good and he is now shooting 81.5% from the free throw line in A-10 play, a massive improvement from his 55.2% clip amassed during non-conference play.

“He’s a solid player and next year you’ll see an even better player,” he concluded. “When he gets 17 and 10, we’re going to win a lot of games.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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