Dukes bow out of A-10 tourney in first round
OLEAN, N.Y. — Duquesne's Bill Clark was halfway to the team bus before it hit him that another college basketball season could be over for him, his coaches and teammates.
Jason Duty, the Dukes' lone senior, stood nearby in a hallway, where Clark had returned. Neither player had to say anything. Their sad expressions told the story.
St. Bonaventure advanced to the Atlantic-10 quarterfinals with its second victory in a week against Duquesne, 83-71, in a first-round game Tuesday night, leaving the Dukes with just an outside chance at a postseason bid to, perhaps, the College Basketball Invitational or the Collegeinsider.com Tournament.
Chris Matthews scored 28 points, including 6 of 8 from 3-point range, and Andrew Nicholson added 25 points to lead the eighth-seeded Bonnies (15-15), who will face top-seeded and 16th-ranked Temple in the quarterfinals Friday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
"I could make a list of the things that we did collectively as a team that contributed to our losses," Clark said, insisting there were just too many issues to rehash.
His shooting slump for much of the season likely would be a prominent part of that list.
A 14-0 second-half run by St. Bonaventure provided the Bonnies with the surge it needed to pass Duquesne (16-15). The Bonnies beat the Dukes, 92-80, in a regular-season game here March 3, when Matthews hit 6 of 10 3-point shots.
"You figured he wouldn't go 6 for 10 again," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said, "and he went 6 for 8. We had a great effort, but Chris Matthews was the difference tonight. It seemed like every time we made a run, he hit a big 3."
It didn't just seem that way. It was that way.
St. Bonaventure's run provided the Bonnies with a 59-45 advantage with 9:48 remaining after Duquesne's B.J. Monteiro had tied the score at 45-45 with a three-point nearly five minutes earlier.
Freshman Sean Johnson's floater in the lane for Duquesne finally ended the run.
Duty's 3-point shot cut the Duquesne deficit to 62-52 before Nicholson's two free throws made it a 12-point advantage for St. Bonaventure.
Another 3-point shot by Duty, Damian Saunders' dunk and Monteiro's putback of a missed 3-pointer by Saunders pulled Duquesne within single digits, 67-60.
Duquesne moved closer on Saunders' slam off a missed shot, getting the Dukes within 69-63, but Matthews buried a 3-pointer to push the St. Bonaventure lead back to nine, 72-63.
Another Matthews 3-pointer increased the Bonnies' lead back to double digits, 75-63, with three minutes left. He scored on a fast-break layup and was fouled by Monteiro with 2:07 remaining, and when he hit the free throw to complete the three-point play, St. Bonaventure had built an insurmountable 78-63 advantage and earned its trip to the A-10 quarterfinals.
"There were bodies flying everywhere on that play," Everhart said. "Matthews came up with the ball and that really was it."
Saunders led Duquesne with 18 points and 10 rebounds, his 20th double-double of the season, two shy of tying Bruce Atkins for the most double-doubles since 1980-81.
Clark and Melquan Bolding sat out large portions of the first half with foul trouble for Duquesne. Meanwhile, St. Bonaventure was taking care of its business behind the 6-foot-9 Nicholson's brute play inside and the 6-4 Matthews' shooting prowess outside.
The duo scored 11 first-half points each.
With Clark and Bolding back on the floor to start the second half, Duquesne point guard Eric Evans picked up his fourth foul and was forced to the sideline with 10:40 remaining. Evans eventually fouled out.
Monteiro added 13 points for Duquesne and Duty scored 11 in the final game of his college career.
St. Bonaventure built a 34-30 halftime lead after overcoming four-point deficit in the final five minutes of the first half.
The Bonnies settled for their four-point lead at the break after Saunders scored on a tip-in of a missed shot with 3 seconds remaining.