Duquesne improves to 7-2 with win vs. Maryland Eastern Shore
Duquesne hit a few milestones Thursday night with its 72-57 victory against Maryland Eastern Shore at Palumbo Center.
The Dukes are 7-2 for only the third time in 46 years. With the victory, they built upon two winning streaks:seven in a row at home and 12 consecutive against nonconference foes.
But coach Keith Dambrot wants to do more than outscore the other team, at least during nonconference season. That easily was done against Maryland Eastern Shore (1-9), a team that hadn’t played since Dec. 2 and a program that has had only two winning seasons in four decades.
Dambrot wants to see weekly improvement from his team and the development of a championship mindset.
In front of a crowd of 1,346, Duquesne led by 20 in the first half while Eastern Shore went 7½ minutes without scoring a field goal. The Dukes were up 21 early in the second half, but they looked up 3½ minutes later, and the lead was 11.
Freshman guard Lamar Norman Jr., who led Duquesne with 16 points in his second career start, admitted the team played “nonchalant” at times.
When Dambrot was asked if the Dukes, who are in the midst of final exams, eased off the gas pedal after building big leads, he didn’t disagree.
“We certainly weren’t very good,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s taking your foot off the gas. We looked like we were gassed.
“They played like it was exam week to me. You don’t know what you’re going to get sometimes in exam week.
“Listen, we’re just trying to win and try to get a little bit better. I didn’t really think we got that much better (Thursday), but as long as we win and can figure some things out, I think we’ll get better.”
Duquesne played its second consecutive game without second-leading scorer Michael Hughes (leg) while leading scorer Eric Williams Jr. played only four minutes (coach’s decision). He hasn’t been in the starting lineup since the Pitt game Nov. 30.
“We weren’t pretty, but we won,” Dambrot said. “My job is make sure they win and set that mentality.”
Are they close to the appropriate mentality?
“I wouldn’t say close,” Dambrot said. “I have to be honest, right. At times, we look pretty good. Other times, we look fair.”
The best of them was clearly Norman, who hit 4 of 9 3-pointers. The rest of the team was 8 0f 27 from beyond the arc.
“He’s a sweetheart. He comes to work every day, doesn’t say anything,” Dambrot said. “He’s got good work ethic. He’s learning every day. He doesn’t know a lot. He’s just playing on instincts, athleticism and he’s one of the few guys making shots.”
Norman was averaging 10.7 minutes before Thursday, but he has played 25 and 28 minutes the past two games.
He said sitting on the bench was “just a little bit difficult” early in the season.
“I wasn’t used to it,” he said. “But I stayed humble and had to do what I had to do, and it’s paying off right now.
“Get ready when your name’s called. Don’t worry about yourself; just worry about the team.”
Said Dambrot: “He has to play. He deserves it.”
Meanwhile, Dambrot hopes his team starts to play with what he calls “championship quality effort.”
“Sharing the ball, not making mistakes, attitude, all of it. I know what it takes to win championships. I know you have to get at it every single day, and you have to play with no agenda.”
Duquesne never was in danger of losing Thursday night, but that’s not enough for a coach who sets a high standard.
“I don’t think we put two halves together, 40 minutes, all season,” he said.
NOTE: Maryland Eastern Shore stayed in town after the game and will play Pitt at Petersen Events Center on Saturday.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.