Louisiana-Lafayette run dooms Duquesne
Duquesne's road trip to the Deep South did not deliver much festive cheer, as the Dukes fell, 91-79, to Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday night, marking the first time Jim Ferry's squad lost when scoring 70 or more points.
The holiday timing and distance of the road trip did not do the Dukes any favors.
“I was really concerned about that,” Duquesne's first-year coach said. “We got about four hours of sleep after Western Michigan and had to get on a plane. But that can't be an excuse. You got to come in, and you got to play basketball. We didn't do a good job of that.”
Freshman Derrick Colter continued to lead the way for the Dukes, matching a career high with 25 points and hitting 3 of 4 attempts from behind the 3-point arc. Sean Johnson and Jeremiah Jones also scored in double digits for the Dukes, with 16 and 12 points, respectively.
Duquesne enjoyed a 38-33 advantage at halftime, but the Dukes saw their lead evaporate under a 16-3 run by the Ragin' Cajuns early in the second stanza.
Rebounds contributed to the Dukes' struggles, as the visitors were outrebounded, 16-7, after the break. Bryant Mbamalu also had a hand in Duquesne's defeat, as the Cajuns' only senior scored all 22 of his points in the second half.
The Dukes held the Cajuns to 42 percent shooting in the first half but couldn't maintain the defensive intensity, as the home team converted more than 71 percent of its shots in the second.
“Our second half was horrible. We did an awful job defensively,” Ferry said. “We looked really fatigued. I probably should have played some guys less minutes. We just got no energy off the bench, and we got no energy from our starters. We really broke down defensively.”
Four of the Dukes' five starters were on the court for at least 30 minutes.
Hot shooting from long range (6 of 11) and controlling the boards (19-17) helped the Dukes jump out to their five-point halftime lead. Sophomore Kadeem Pantophlet had a career-high eight rebounds, but only one came in the second half.
The Dukes entered the game averaging five more rebounds per contest than their opponent. That would not be the case Saturday, as Duquesne tallied 26 boards to the Cajuns' 33.
“We've been outrebounding teams all year, but now we don't do it down here,” Ferry said. “It was digging in and really defending, keeping guys in front of us and getting stops. We did a really poor job of it, and if we play like that, we are going to lose a lot.”
The Dukes (7-6) travel to Penn State on Dec. 29 to challenge the Nittany Lions.
Seth Johnson is a freelance writer.