The No. 9 Duquesne Dukes have won an Atlantic 10 Tournament game for the first time since 2015. That year, the No. 11 seeded Dukes took down Saint Louis 61-55. It was Jim Ferry’s third season as head coach. He only lasted two more seasons before a guy by the name of Keith Dambrot arrived on the scene. That guy, as it turns out, is a pretty good coach.
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
In 2018, Dambrot’s first season, he took the Dukes to a 7-11 conference record, their best conference record since the 7-9 2012 season. As the No. 10 seed, they fell to No. 7 Richmond handedly in the first round and Duquesne fans everywhere feared the worst. But three straight non-losing seasons since then has led the team to Dambrot’s first A10 Tournament victory over the same Spiders that spoiled his debut.
Freshman Chad Baker led the team in points with 16, while seniors Marcus Weathers and Michael Hughes grabbed 10 rebounds – to go along with 12 and 11 points, respectively – as Duquesne defeated Richmond 67-62 Thursday. Senior Tavian Dunn-Martin also put up double digit points with 11 while Tyson Acuff came off the bench to score 9 points. It was the kind of game Duquesne needed to see from its young rising talent, and the kind of game they will need to see Friday in the quarterfinals against No. 1 St. Bonaventure. Tyler Burton scored 18 points for Richmond, but it wasn’t enough for the Spiders to crawl to victory.
CAN THEY KEEP IT UP?
The question now is whether Duquesne can keep the momentum rolling against St. Bonaventure, a team that took down the Dukes twice this season. The first was an ugly 62-48 loss on Jan. 15. Despite Duquesne holding the Bonnies to 2 three-pointers on 16 attempts, the Dukes were outplayed in the paint and outshot at the free throw line. St. Bonaventure made 20 out of 27, while Duquesne made only 3 out of 9. The second matchup of the regular season, just eight days later on Jan. 23, was a closer victory for the Bonnies, 65-61. Still, it was the same story. Despite Duquesne outperforming St. Bonaventure beyond the arc, the foul trouble kept the Dukes in the losing column.
The key for Duquesne Friday is going to be a sustained three-point attack and avoiding the foul trouble that so often accompanies a matchup with St. Bonaventure. The key for the Bonnies to come out victorious will be improving their three-point shooting just enough to squeak by. For a team ranked second in the conference in 3P% at 0.365, that shouldn’t be an issue, but Duquesne has proven that the numbers can be thrown out the window when they take the floor.
HISTORY IN THE MAKING?
Dambrot’s Dukes will be playing in the quarterfinals of the A10 Tournament for the first time since 2011, a 93-90 loss to Saint Joseph’s. The Dukes last made the semifinals in 2009, where they went on to lose the championship game to Temple, 69-64. The last time the Dukes won a conference tournament was 1977, in which they defeated Villanova 57-54 for the Eastern 8 championship. They fell in the first round of the 32-team NCAA Tournament that year to VMI.
The last time St. Bonaventure won the conference tournament was 2012.