Saunders, Duquesne storm to A-10 victory

| Sunday, Feb. 7, 2010

WASHINGTON — Maybe it should snow like this every time Duquesne plays a basketball game.

Damian Saunders produced another monster performance Saturday, scoring a career-high 27 points and adding 16 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocked shots to lead the Dukes over George Washington, 70-63, at Smith Center.

"Numbers really aren't my thing," said Saunders, who notched his Atlantic 10-leading 17th double-double. "As long as I play hard and do the best I can for my team. If I get a double-double, of course I'll be happy. But it doesn't really matter. What matters is winning the game."

Because of the severe weather conditions that dumped upwards of 2 feet of snow in some areas, Duquesne (12-11, 3-6) was forced to take a fleet of four-wheel drive vehicles to the game because the team bus became stuck on a side street.

"It was an adventure, but we got here," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said. The Dukes remained in the District of Columbia last night because of treacherous road conditions that were causing numerous accidents, including several along Interstates 70 and 76 leading to Pittsburgh. The team attempted to depart for home but the bus became stuck in snow a short distance from the hotel.

The ordeal seemed to be worth the trouble.

"I'd like for it to snow as much as it is out there every day if Saunders plays with that kind of energy and effort," Everhart said. "He was phenomenal. He got rebounds today that were ungettable. Our whole team played probably as well as we have all year."

George Washington coach Karl Hobbs expressed similar feelings, saying Saunders' rebounding performance stood out most.

"He's a terrific player," Hobbs said. "We didn't care how many points he scored. We just didn't want him to get offensive rebounds. He got nine. He single-handedly kept them in the game."

The victory was just the second in 10 road games for Duquesne, which also won at Iowa on Nov. 17. The Dukes had not beaten George Washington (12-10, 2-7) at Smith Center since 2000, a span of seven games.

Duquesne is part of a logjam in the A-10 standings involving five other teams, including GW, in a battle for an A-10 Tournament playoff spot. The Dukes are tied for eighth place, with the top 12 teams in the 14-team league qualifying.

"For us, as a basketball team, it means a lot to finally get another road win," Everhart said. "We've played some very good basketball this year to come away with losses in certain situations ... Our kids are out there fighting."

Duquesne scored the game's final six points after George Washington closed within 64-63 on a layup by Damian Hollis, the Colonials' leading scorer, who was held to seven points in just 18 minutes.

Melquan Bolding added 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists for Duquesne.

George Washington was led by freshman Lasan Kromah's 15 points and 10 rebounds. Dwayne Smith added 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Duquesne led at halftime, 33-28. The second half was close throughout. Eric Evans' layup gave Duquesne a 66-63 lead, and Bolding's free throw increased the Dukes' advantage to 67-63 with 41 seconds to go.

Saunders rebounded a missed jumper by Kromah and was fouled, making both free throws with 28 seconds left to secure the victory.

The Dukes next play back-to-back home games against Massachusetts on Thursday and against La Salle on Feb. 14.

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