Duquesne men win ‘home’ game at La Roche vs. Lipscomb
They played a major-college basketball game in the North Hills on Friday night at La Roche’s Kerr Fitness Center.
It is a place reserved mainly for the Redhawks, members of the Division III Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference.
Duquesne and Lipscomb — the Atlantic 10 vs. the Atlantic Sun — squared off in their first-ever meeting in front of a spirited, Duquesne-heavy crowd that packed the parking lot and the seats.
The Dukes, behind double-doubles from Marcus Weathers (13 points, career-high 12 rebounds) and Michael Hughes (10 points, 10 rebounds), prevailed 58-36 in the second of three “home games” at La Roche.
It was Hughes’ second consecutive double-double. He had 17 points and 10 rebounds in the Dukes’ 66-56 victory over Lamar on Tuesday at La Roche.
Lipscomb’s point total represented the fewest scored by a Duquesne opponent since St. Peters beat Duquesne, 34-33, on March 10, 1980.
“I’m proud of how we defended. It was a rough night for us overall, but we hung in there,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot said. “All good teams win at the defensive end. We haven’t been a great defensive team since I’ve been here, which has really annoyed me. So for me, I’ll take this game over a 96-92 game any day of the week.”
The teams combined to make 1 of 40 3-point shots, Duquesne’s Tavian Dunn-Martin sinking the only one in the second half.
Overall, Duquesne shot 36.7 percent. Lipscomb shot 29.2, its lowest showing in 474 games since joining Division I in 2004-05.
“That was an offensive performance for the ages,” Dambrot joked.
Perhaps the unfamiliar surroundings had something to do with it.
“We played really good defensively,” Dambrot said. “We just can’t get out of our own way for whatever reason. The good thing about it is we’re still a work in progress. We’re still developing our bench. We’re still trying to figure out combinations.”
It was worth the trip for the Duquesne faithful, many of whom have followed the Dukes from the time they were relevant and through a lot of lean years. They’re hoping for a rebirth of the once-proud program.
Duquesne is 3-0 under Dambrot, who led the Dukes to 19 victories last season, his second as coach.
“To me, a gym is a gym. You’re still close to the floor here,” said Tony Merante, a season-ticket holder from Whitehall. “I like it. I haven’t heard too many complaints because, really, it’s only going to be this way for a year.”
Duquesne, which has been practicing at its Power Center student recreation facility, is using three venues for games while a $45 million arena is being constructed on the site of Palumbo Center, the team’s previous home.
UPMC Chuck Cooper Fieldhouse is expected to be ready in time for the 2020-21 season.
Duquesne has one game remaining at La Roche, five at PPG Paints Arena, where they opened the season with a victory over Princeton, and four at UPMC Events Center at Robert Morris.
The Dukes led throughout the first half but couldn’t shake loose from Lipscomb (1-3), which was 29-8 last season and lost to Texas in the National Invitation Tournament championship game.
Duquesne held the Bisons scoreless during a span of 7 minutes, 44 seconds but still led just 18-10 with 5:05 left before halftime.
The Dukes were ahead 24-18 at the break.
Lipscomb closed within 24-22 to start the second half, but Duquesne regained its composure and went on an 11-0 run, capped by a pair Baylee Steele dunks, to make it 35-22.
The Dukes held Lipscomb scoreless for another run of 4:47 while extending their lead to 56-30 with 2:41 remaining.
“We relied on our defense to get the job done,” said Steele, who tied Weathers with a game-high 13 points for Duquesne.
Ahsan Asadullah led Lipscomb with 14 points before the 6-foot-8 sophomore fouled out with 8:39 left.
Dave Mackall is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.