ShareThis Page

Duquesne outlasts Dayton to win Atlantic 10 opener

| Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, 6:21 p.m.

Two things were clear for Duquesne in its 70-62 win over Dayton in its Atlantic 10 opener Saturday at Palumbo Center: The Dukes closed a game with solid defense, and they didn't back down when the situation became tense.

In coach Keith Dambrot's A-10 debut, the Dukes held Dayton without a field goal in the final five and half minutes and finished the game on a 10-2 run.

Another statement was made just before halftime when Dayton's Kostas Antetokounmpo dunked on the Dukes and got in Chas Brown's face. The Dukes didn't back down. Instead, a shoving match ensued. Brown and Antetokounmpo received technical fouls.

Dambrot liked the fire he saw from his players, even if he didn't like seeing Brown commit a technical foul.

“It showed that Duquesne isn't going to get punked anymore,” Dambrot said. “I didn't particularly care for the play, but in the same token, at least he showed that we're not going to take anything. We're not going to be the stepchildren of the league.”

The Dukes, who are 8-1 in their past nine games, fed off the energy, taking a 38-34 lead into halftime.

“It goes into our team's mental toughness, and when we get into a situation like that, we're not going to back down,” said Duquesne's Mike Lewis II, who finished with 12 points. “We're going to keep our head and keep competing. After (the technicals), I thought that was when our fans started to make a lot of noise and got into the game.”

Dambrot is setting out to change a long culture of losing, and the way the team closed Saturday's game provided a step in the right direction.

The Dukes (10-4, 1-0) forced difficult looks for Dayton (6-7, 0-1) in the final five minutes while clinging to a two-point lead. A pair of baskets in the paint by Brown, playing with a broken foot, and an acrobatic runner in the lane by Eric Williams Jr. created breathing room. Williams' jumper brought an energetic Palumbo Center crowd to its feet.

“Coach (Dambrot) always preaches that you're not going win trying to outscore a team, and as long as we get stops, we will have a chance at the end,” said guard Rene Castro-Caneddy, who had a game-high 21 points.

After going 0 for 3 from outside the arc in the first half, Lewis connected a pair of 3-pointers a minute apart early in the second. Tarin Smith added a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Duquesne a 53-46 lead near the midpoint of the second half.

Brown's dunk gave the Dukes the lead for good, 62-61, with 4:35 to play.

The win was a good first step, but Dambrot said the Dukes have to keep climbing as they continue to rebuild.

“There's no reason Duquesne shouldn't have a good program. I'll say that over and over,” Dambrot said. “The school is behind us, and I thought the fans today were great. I don't know what the total was or how many were Dayton fans or Duquesne fans, but I know if we work hard and play hard the people of Pittsburgh will get behind this program. Pittsburgh people have built their whole lives on hard work and togetherness, and that's what we're trying to do here.”

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me