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Duquesne falls to Davidson, on 6-game losing streak

Jerry DiPaola
| Saturday, Feb. 24, 2018, 2:08 p.m.

Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot knows only one way to describe his team's six-game losing streak and what he needs to do to reverse it.

“I hate it,” he said after the 71-60 loss to Davidson on Saturday at Palumbo Center. “But I signed up for it.

“I understand this business pretty well. I know what I have to do.

“In the short term, we have to keep working. In the long term, we have to keep recruiting.”

The loss to Davidson (17-10, 12-4) — like the 13 that preceded it — showed clearly what Duquesne (15-14, 6-10) needs to become a contender in the Atlantic 10.

The Dukes have enough talented guards. Sophomore Mike Lewis snapped out of his slump to lead the team with 15 points, and Eric Williams added 12.

But there was so much pressure on the guards to score — due to the lack of offensive punch in the paint — that the defense suffered. As a result, Davidson's Kellan Grady scored 30 (with no rebounds, by the way) and 6-foot-8 forward Peyton Aldridge recorded a double-double (17 points, 10 rebounds).

“I don't think we guarded them very well,” Lewis said. “We have to pay more attention to our scouting report and pay more attention to what coaches give us and use that to our advantage.”

And, perhaps, regain an edge the team had earlier in the season when Duquesne fans believed Dambrot had resurrected the program in one season.

Lewis offered a serious indictment of what has happened during the losing streak.

“We haven't been playing with a lot of emotion lately,” he said. “We're kind of dead on our feet out there.”

Duquesne had stretches of solid play but could not sustain it. Dambrot opened the game with a calculated move, starting his four seniors on Senior Day. He hasn't always done that in previous seasons, but he thought this group of seniors deserved it.

“I felt it was a good thing to do for a new team and a new coach,” he said. “To make sure those guys know how much I appreciate them.”They responded by taking a 10-0 lead. Then, in the second half, the Dukes scored 18 points in the first 9 minutes, 20 seconds and only trailed by one. But poor defense and bad shooting allowed Davidson to run away with the victory.

Dambrot stood up for his team in the second half by screaming and purposely striding toward an official at the beginning of a timeout. He was thinking about the difference in foul shots and fouls between the home team and the guest.

At game's end, visiting Davidson was 18 of 22 and was called for 11 fouls; Duquesne was 5 of 9 with 19.

Dambrot tried to be diplomatic about the situation.

“I'm not going to be Bob Huggins,” he said, referencing the West Virginia coach's rant against the officials last week after the Kansas game.

But he admitted, “There were a couple of tough calls that affected the game.”

Center Tydus Verhoeven was called for two fouls while trying to block shots, ended up with four and played only 13 minutes.

“We needed to keep Tydus in the game,” Dambrot said. “Peyton (Aldridge, two fouls) got the calls. Tydus didn't get the calls.”

But Dambrot was more disappointed with his team's shot selection. Duquesne shot only 39.3 percent, often rushing shots when the situation called for a slower pace.

“I don't think we shared the ball as well as we should,” Dambrot said. “That's what losing teams do.

“At some point, if they don't think they're going to win, they started thinking to themselves, 'Well, why shouldn't I get mine?' Which is a bad way to think.”

Duquesne has been competitive in enough games this season that Dambrot believes the team can make an impact in the A-10 Tournament.

But he's also thinking about the future and putting the program solidly back on its feet.

“We have to make sure in Year 2, we're better and Year 3 we're better and by the time I'm out of here, we're winning championships.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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