Duquesne's intensity mirrors Bill Clark's
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When Bill Clark stepped in front of a pass, stole the ball and dunked on a breakaway less than four minutes into Saturday night's game, Duquesne had a 7-0 lead against St. Bonaventure.
But it was when Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt called timeout to regroup his team that Clark made an even bigger play. He gave roommate and teammate Damian Saunders a smashing chest bump at midcourt, a congratulatory welcome-back that further energized Clark in his return from a one-game, NCAA-related suspension.
"He was jumping all over the place," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said of his junior forward.
Clark's fierce style defined the intensity with which Duquesne played for much of its come-from-behind, 70-69 victory at Palumbo Center.
That same intensity level returned when it mattered -- late in the game after Duquesne had lost a double-digit lead and looked to be on the verge of another close loss -- as Melquan Bolding's 3-pointer from deep in the corner capped the Dukes' comeback.
The result was the end to a five-game losing streak, providing the Dukes (10-9, 1-4) with their first Atlantic 10 Conference win.
Duquesne next travels to Xavier on Thursday, looking to re-establish momentum after going more than a month without a victory.
The Dukes prevailed in their most recent meeting with the Musketeers. Duquesne beat then-No. 9 Xavier, 72-68, on Feb. 7, 2009, at Palumbo Center.
Saunders set up Bolding's winning basket by driving down the left side of the lane and whipping a left-handed pass.
"On any given night, one of us can be a leader for the team, so we all learn from each other," said Saunders, who had 15 points and nine rebounds, one board shy of his 16th double-double of the season and 10th in a row.
"Scoring-wise, defensive-wise, whatever it takes," Saunders said.
For Clark, it was a defensive-minded kind of night.
"Bill did about as good a job defensively as we've had here at Duquesne," Everhart said. "Even though we had to sit him for a while with four fouls, he made a lot of sacrifices for the team."
That early chest bump was just a prelude to the contact Clark was in store for. Moments before Bolding's winning shot, Clark absorbed a flattening charge from St. Bonaventure's Michael Davenport with Duquesne trailing by two points.
"That might have been the play that turned the whole game around and gave us a chance," Everhart said. "It took large (guts) for that kid to stand in there and take that charge in the chest, as fast as (Davenport) was driving the ball. That's pretty much who Bill Clark is."
Clark, who sat out a 75-67 loss at Rhode Island on Wednesday, scored 10 against St. Bonaventure, joining Saunders and Eric Evans (15 each) and Bolding (14) in double figures for Duquesne. Yet Clark continued to struggle from behind the 3-point line, missing both of his attempts.
He is shooting 24.5 percent (26 for 106) from behind the arc after shooting just under 40 percent last season.
"He didn't pout about it," Everhart said. "He just played ball. Sooner or later, B.C.'s shots are going to start falling, and he's going to be back to the old Bill."
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