Duquesne's win streak reaches 10
For some odd reason, the Duquesne men's basketball players and coaches don't seem to get what all the hype is about. To them, this current team is doing a lot of what they had hoped for heading into the season.
But a 10-game winning streak that includes a school-record 7-0 start in the Atlantic 10 Conference?
"We'll just get ready for the next opponent, basically, get ready to go back to practice and work," senior forward Damian Saunders said Sunday after Duquesne's winning streak continued with the Dukes' 82-64 thrashing of Dayton before 8,802 at Consol Energy Center.
Saunders scored 19 points and Bill Clark added 17 to lead Duquesne (15-5, 7-0), which moved back into a first-place tie in the Atlantic 10 Conference with Xavier, which the Dukes will meet Feb. 13 in the Chuck Cooper Classic at Consol.
Prior to that, Duquesne will face George Washington on Wednesday at Palumbo Center before traveling to St. Bonaventure on Saturday.
"Coach has done a great job to make sure we know what to expect with each game," Saunders said. "The next thing that matters is the opening tip for GW. When the Xavier game comes along, we'll be ready for that."
The 18-point margin of victory was Duquesne's largest against Dayton since a 91-67 victory on Jan. 19, 1976, and gave the Dukes their first win in three games at the new arena.
"Our kids played a great second half," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said. "Passing the ball and guarding the ball is getting contagious. We contested every shot in the second half."
Saunders grabbed eight rebounds as Duquesne controlled the boards, 42-34, against Dayton, the A-10's leader in rebounding with a plus-6 average margin. Duquesne shot 50.8 percent, just the second team to top 50 percent against Dayton, which shot 44.3.
Freshman guard T.J. McConnell and B.J. Monteiro added 15 points apiece for Duquesne.
McConnell also had two steals and four assists to bring his A-10 assist-to-turnover ratio to 34 to 3. He outplayed Dayton freshman guard Juwan Staten, the A-10 preseason rookie of the year, who finished with four points, six assists, zero steals and five turnovers.
"I love all my guys, but I'm lucky to have T.J., I'll tell you that," Everhart said.
Dayton (15-7, 3-4) was led by Chris Johnson's 13 points. Paul Williams added 11 and Chris Wright grabbed 10 rebounds for the Flyers, who lost their second game in a row and fourth in the past seven.
Not only was Dayton outrebounded by the smaller Dukes, but Duquesne forced 20 Flyers turnovers.
"We may not be playing well right now, but we're a good team," Dayton coach Brian Gregory said. "We don't' turn the ball over. They're doing it to everybody. Duquesne could play anybody in the country and they're going to give them a game, and they're going to win a lot of them."
Clark sank a pair of 3-pointers during Duquesne's 19-8 run in the second half that helped the Dukes open up a 58-44 lead. Saunders' dunk with 13:44 remaining -- one of his four on the day -- capped the rally. The two combined for 14 of the 19 points.
"Give those two seniors credit," Gregory said. "They set the tone and play hard every single minute. They believe in what they're doing, and you can see that."
Saunders, who shot 8 for 12, added team highs in rebounds, assists (five) and blocked shots (three). He also tied Clark with four steals.
Duquesne finished with 18 assists, slightly fewer than its Division I-leading average of 19.2 per game.