Duquesne holds off Robert Morris for best start in 36 years
If Duquesne learned anything from Saturday's victory against Robert Morris, it's that the Dukes can win even when not shooting well.
The Dukes shot a season-low 34.4 percent (22 of 64) and 14.8 percent from the 3-point line and still managed to pull out a 72-65 victory at Palumbo Center.
Duquesne (10-2) is off to its best start since the 1979-80 season and tied the 1954 Dukes team for the most pre-New Year's Day victories in program history. The Dukes also ended their five-game losing streak to the Colonials.
Despite a 3-for-17 shooting performance, Derrick Colter led the Dukes with 19 points, 13 in the second half. He was 11 for 11 from the free-throw line and 6 for 6 in the final minute.
Eric James came off the bench to score 13 points, and Micah Mason had 10. James replaced senior Jeremiah Jones, who injured his right knee during the first half and did not return.
“I thought our team showed a lot of maturity and growth,” Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said. “Robert Morris defended the 3-point line well with Derrick and Micah, so we knew we weren't going to win the game that way.
“What was impressive was our tenacity and relentlessness on the glass. We didn't talk about making shots. We talked offensive rebounding.”
Duquesne outrebounded Robert Morris, 59-33, producing a 22-4 scoring edge in second-chance points and a 36-18 edge in the paint. The Dukes had 21 offensive rebounds.
L.G. Gill, Darius Lewis, TySean Powell and Nakye Sanders combined to score 26 points and pull down 31 rebounds.
Despite the edge in the frontcourt, Duquesne couldn't put away the scrappy Colonials.
“We knew they'd come here and play us tough. They always do,” Mason said. “We didn't play well offensively, especially me and Derrick. But Eric stepped up for Jeremiah.
“It was a great program win for us. Last year when we didn't play well offensively, these were the type of games we'd lose.”
Duquesne built a 30-20 lead in the first half only to watch Robert Morris cut it to 35-30 by halftime.
The Colonials tied the score at 35-35 on a dunk by Billy Giles and a 3-pointer by Elijah Minnie to start the second half.
The Dukes, however, regained control and stretched the lead to nine on a couple of occasions, the last coming with 6:12 remaining at 61-52.
But Robert Morris wouldn't quit, cutting the Dukes lead to 64-63 with 2:20 left.
The Colonials had the ball, but Powell stole a pass. After Powell's free throws made it 66-63, the Colonials had two opportunities to pull even but couldn't convert.
“I'm proud how we fought and competed,” Robert Morris coach Andy Toole said. “We gave ourselves a shot to win. We just need to make a few more plays and maybe a few more shots in order to pull it out.”
Colter put the game away by making six consecutive free throws.
“It was a total team win,” Ferry said. “We won a game not by shooting the 3s. We're starting to develop into a team that can win different ways. Hopefully, we'll grow from a win like this.”
Minnie led Robert Morris with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Rodney Pryor added 22.
The Colonials fell to 2-10, their worst start in 15 years.