A.J. Palumbo Center — Duquesne (11-6, 1-3) has gotten off to a rough start in A-10 play with three consecutive losses to rivals Dayton, Davidson and George Washington; however, that streak snapped after a statement, 81-71 win over Saint Louis (6-10, 1-3), a game in which the Billikens never saw a lead over the entirety.
Stats do not lie: Duquesne’s 34 points in the paint tonight highly outweighed Saint Louis’ 14. The first half set the tone for the night when Duquesne’s ratio compared to Saint Louis’ paint points was 20:2. One man played a major role for the Dukes being a force down low: Darius Lewis.
As the season inched deeper and deeper I have continually questioned why Duquesne has not used Lewis’ height to their advantage over opponents — they listened, last night, from the get-go.
Six blocks, which he ended up tying his game-high at seven, in the first half by Lewis helped halt the Billikens and Ash Yacoubou — a Villanova transfer and St. Louis leader in rebounds –from entering the paint successfully all night. The does not just fall on Yacoubou shoulders, scoring leaders Mark Crawford and Miles Reynolds were never able to get anything going in the first half either. As a team, Saint Louis had four made buckets, Lewis alone had four– tells you how this half went.
“He was a monster today. It is all about consistency with him,” Ferry on the play of Lewis.
Aside from Lewis’ outstanding double-double performance on the night, 17 points from the Dukes backcourt, Derrick Colter and Micah Mason, helped give Duquesne an enormous 38-13 lead at the half.
Despite high scoring totals, things did not change for Colter and Mason as they continue to shoot poorly from the field in the first half — all of their points were coming from the charity stripe. In fact, Colter did not record his first bucket until there was a little over one minute left on the clock.
The Dukes went into the tunnel feeling accomplished, and who knows, they may have come out playing a bit lackadaisical in the second half; the Billikens started the next half with a 5-0 run. Colter, who did not shoot well in the first, helped pull Duquesne out of the rocking chair by successfully completing a four-point play.
A few possessions later, Lewis and TySean Powell had a pair of slams that erupted the crowd.
Saint Louis’ lack of success behind the arc in the first half allowed Duquesne to sag off a bit and cover the paint even more than they already were doing. However, that logic allowed the Billikens to shoot over 50 percent from three-point range in the second half.
During the entirety of the game, Duquesne had command of the lead and crowd completely, especially after Powell threw down an earth-shattering alley-oop slam from Eric James on an inbound — play of the night for sure. If Powell can clean up his sloppy play that he has at times, he can play a huge role in this program going forward.
Time continued to wind down with Duquesne leading big.
Let me set the scene for you, Duquesne is up by 33 points with, about, seven minutes of regulation left. With that in mind, Jim Ferry decided to play a lot of his younger bench guys to see how they would react without Colter or Mason in charge. At one point, Rene Castro, Mar’Qywell Jackson, Nayke Sanders, Josh Steel and Jordan Robinson were the five on the court for Ferry. It was easy to tell that the Billikens were beginning to gain momentum because of all the Trojan Horses on the bench.
If that is not enough for you, Ferry even made the decision to sub in Nick Foschia for a portion of the game, who bricked, practically, a wide-open layup. I am glad that he received some playing time, but not when you are in the position that Duquesne is, you need to win these huge A-10 games after starting 0-3.
These decisions helped Saint Louis’ Jermaine Bishop and Yacoubou collect over 20 points a piece; both combined for three points in the first half.
As the final bell rung, Duquesne ended up finishing off Saint Louis with a 10-point lead, 81-71, though, not as high as it should have ended up being.
Four Dukes, Colter, Lewis, Mason and Powell each had double-digit figures in the points column to help lead the team to victory.
Duquesne, perhaps, will have their toughest task so far coming up next when they take on St. Bonaventure at the Palumbo Center at 6 pm on Saturday. “A-10 basketball can play out many ways when the lights are on,” said Ferry. But the lights do not appear to be playing a role in making him feel urgent about 1-3 in conference games.
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