I don’t think it’s hyperbole to use the phrase instant classic for Duquesne fans to describe the win over URI.
I was trying to think of a recent game that rivaled this one in terms of:
- Importance – Both teams are contending for a top four finish.
- Drama – Huge second half comeback with a back and forth final five minutes.
- Outcome – Winning feels better than losing, and this one felt great!
I couldn’t. Please let me know in the comments if you can.
The Good The Second Half
Nineteen points is not a hole you ever want to dig yourself into, and you’re a long shot down that margin at the half. However, the Dukes took a methodical approach to get back into the game. They changed their defense, and Rhode Island seemed uncomfortable against the full court pressure. They also took better shots, and while the three ball got them back in the game, they also capitalized on put backs and some midrange jump shots as well. After a couple of bad games on the glass, the Dukes out rebounded URI 23-9 in the second.
The Bad The First Half
Duquesne had nothing going for it at the halftime whistle offensively, defensively, or emotionally. They started the game fine, but got into a funk as the half wore on. A lot of times bad offense leads to bad defense. I thought the opposite happened for Duquesne tonight. They gave up some easy baskets, put pressure on themselves to get it back quickly, and took bad shots or made poor passes as a result. The first half, the Dukes looked like the young team that they are, but they got old real fast during the intermission.
Player of the Game
Frankie Hughes went from the doghouse to the penthouse in the second half. After an ill-advised ally – oop on a two on one break went for a turnover, Hughes was glued to the bench for the remainder of the first period, and a good chunk of the early second. He learned from his punishment and potted twenty points with a nearly flawless performance in the final ten minutes.
The Turning Point
Whatever motivated Duquesne in the halftime locker room, it worked.
When I Knew It Was Over
Jeff Dowtin missed a wide open three. The Dukes secured the rebound, and dribbled out the clock. Personally, I thought the game was headed to OT when that shot left his hands, but it rimmed out.
Credit Where It’s Due
Duquesne looked bad in the first half, but a lot of that was Rhode Island’s doing. I haven’t watched much of them this year, but I can’t imagine they played too many better halves than they did in the first. I don’t think they deserved to lose based on how well they performed early. Problem is, Duquesne overwhelmed them with their best twenty minutes of the season following the break.
We hear Dambrot consistently talking about one goal, playing championship caliber basketball. Well, the Dukes played one half of championship basketball tonight. Of course, they also played one half of Danny Nee basketball, but who’s counting, right?. We’ve seen glimmers of championship basketball before this season, most notably the opening minutes against GW in Foggy Bottom. I don’t recall it sustained over a full half as it was tonight. Duquesne will finish in the Atlantic 10’s top four and make a run in the tournament if they can play that way more often than not the rest of the season. They just need to understand how capable they really are.