Duquesne falls at Massachusetts
AMHERST, Mass. — It was a matter of energy, and the Duquesne men's basketball team just didn't have anything left in the final seven minutes against the University of Massachusetts.
Despite a career-high 29 points from senior guard Sean Johnson, the Dukes dropped their fifth straight game, 79-66, on Thursday night.
The Dukes (7-10, 0-3 Atlantic 10) burned a lot of energy to overcome a 14-point halftime deficit, riding the hot hand of Johnson to get within three of the Minutemen (12-4, 2-1). But in the final seven minutes, the Dukes could muster only one more field goal as the Minutemen pulled away.
“It looks like we ran out of steam, playing these young guys and using a lot of energy to come back,'' Dukes coach Jim Ferry said. “... And their length really bothered us late, whether it was bothering shots or keeping them off the glass.”
A poor first half put the Dukes behind, but Johnson, one of just two seniors on the Duquesne roster, carried his team back into the contest.
“I was just feeling it, you know?” Johnson, who scored 18 of his points in the second half, said. “I hit one 3 coming into the second half, but I hit another and I was just feeling it.”
In about a six-minute span, Johnson scored 16 points, including jumpers, 3-pointers, drives to the rim and foul shots. He even had a rare four-point play.
Johnson's final points came on a steal and layup with 10:16 left that made it 59-54. And while his teammates made a few plays over the next three minutes to keep the Dukes in the contest, it was far from enough to catch the Minutemen and their leader, Chaz Williams.
Williams finished with 22 points and nine assists.
The end for the Dukes came not at the hands of Williams but mainly from Terrell Vinson (17 points) and Freddie Riley (12). After Derrick Colter (14 points) scored on a drive to make it 65-62, Vinson and Riley worked to undo the comeback.
Vinson banked in a jumper, then a quick outlet on a defensive rebound to Riley saw him pull up on the fastbreak and make a 3-pointer with 6:14 left to give UMass a 70-62 lead.
“That was huge. We called a timeout right after that,” Ferry said. “We used so much energy getting back, and they're great in conversion. That was a big 3. If he misses that, the game could still be intact.”
Jeffrey Thomas is a freelance writer