Dayton downs Duquesne for OT victory
DAYTON, Ohio — Duquesne's lone senior, Jason Duty, shed some tears in the aftermath of Saturday's gut-wrenching, 78-72 overtime loss to Dayton at UD Arena.
Duty missed 2 of 3 free throws with 3.5 seconds left in regulation that would have given Duquesne a lead.
"That was nothing different than us missing free throws in the middle of the game or not getting rebounds when we needed them," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said, dismissing any suggestion that the game was lost on Duty's missed shots.
Those comments by his coach were of little consolation to Duty, the former walk-on guard from Vincentian Academy, who earned a scholarship from Everhart after ranking among the Atlantic 10 Conference's best 3-point shooters last season. He continued to agonize in a hallway outside the Dukes locker room as he was being consoled by a family member.
But, as the team prepared to board a bus back to Pittsburgh late yesterday afternoon, Duty's coaches and teammates seemingly were telling him, "OK, that's enough."
"I told him some of us didn't make free throws, either, so don't beat yourself up because of it. Just prepare yourself for the next game," junior forward Damian Saunders said.
Added Everhart: "We've got a game Wednesday (at Palumbo Center against Saint Louis) and we've got to be ready to play.
"We're still finding our way. With Mel (Bolding) just back, our chemistry isn't functioning properly. We missed 12 free throws today (15 for 27)."
Duty did manage to send the game into overtime, making the first of three attempts from the line after he was fouled on a 3-point shot with the Dukes trailing, 63-62.
But Dayton (12-3, 1-0), which lost to Duquesne in the Atlantic-10 Tournament semifinals last season after beating the Dukes twice during the regular season, jumped to a seven-point lead to start the overtime and held on to win.
Consecutive baskets by Chris Johnson, including a resounding dunk off a missed shot, sparked the Flyers' overtime run. Johnson finished with career highs of 26 points and 20 rebounds.
"Our effort was outstanding," Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. "We did a good job of rebounding, which kept us in the game."
Dayton had the edge on the boards, 50-43, but it committed 18 turnovers.
"We played with energy, but we need to play more disciplined," Gregory said.
Dayton rode double-doubles by Johnson and Chris Wright and extended its school-record 29-game home winning streak.
Johnson became the first Dayton player with at least 20 points and rebounds each in a game since Ryan Merryman's 26 points and 20 rebounds sparked the Flyers' 68-62 victory over Duquesne in 1998 at Palumbo Center.
Wright, who suffered a severe cut above his right eye in a collison under the basket in the second half, added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Flyers, the preseason A-10 favorites.
Saunders' 13 double-double of the season — the most in Division I — led Duquesne (9-7, 0-2), which lost for the fourth time in five games.
Saunders, playing with four fouls for the latter portion of the second half and through the entire overtime, finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
The Dukes, whose shooting percentages have been abysmal this season, were just 37.7 percent (26 for 69), including 23.8 (5 for 21) from 3-point range. Duquesne entered the game shooting 41.8 percent but just 24.9 from 3 and 60.6 from the free-throw line.
Marcus Johnson added 11 points for Dayton.
Sean Johnson (14), Melquan Bolding (13) and Duty (12) joined Saunders in double figures for Duquesne.
Bolding was playing in just his third game and second since returning from a wrist surgery that caused him to miss 13 games.
Dayton shot 38.3 percent (23 for 60) overall — the 13th time in 16 games that Duquesne has held an opponent to less than 40 percent.