Pittsburgh, PA — In a sold out Ryan Center, Rhode Island had to battle to earn a last-second 61-58 victory Saturday afternoon against Duquesne.
This is the same Duquesne team which was predicted to place last in the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Preseason Poll that led for the vast majority of the game, but fell just short after the final buzzer.
“They tried to take our sets away by trying to speed us up,” Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot said. “The game became very aggressive which wasn’t good for us. We kind of did our own thing which got us in trouble. We showed tremendous fight to come back, we did what we had to do. Our newness and youngness got us. It was like VCU in a lot of regards.”
Duquesne led by as many as 15 points and was moving the ball around and using its plus-nine first half rebounding advantage to continue to get opportunities. It also contained E.C. Matthews and allowed Jared Terrell to take just three shots.
Duquesne shot 52% from the field in the first half and Rhode Island 31% and 0-for-7 on its three-point shots.
Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley kept his team in the locker room until close to second half play but it was Duquesne which opened on a 9-0 scoring run, as the Rams matched their largest deficit of the season at 15 points.
Though Duquesne led for much of the second half, it began to make several mistakes with fouls, turnovers and shot selection which allowed Rhode Island to open up a lead as Matthews scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half.
“You can’t have 19 turnovers and it allowed them to get in transition but they weren’t comfortable with us defensively,” said Dambrot.
The game-winning basket came when Jeff Dowtin found Stanford Robinson on the left-wing for a wide open three.
“We didn’t defend it well, we got beat at the point of attack which forced our guy to come off the corner to help, he had no choice,” Dambrot said. “That became a game of attrition, who had more energy and they have been in more of those games than us. I feel bad for our guys. There are no moral victories, but we showed we can compete with anybody.”
In the defeat, Rhode Island was held to its second-lowest point total of the season.
This is the first time Duquesne has lost consecutive games since its three-game losing streak to Robert Morris, Cornell and Pitt Nov. 19-Dec. 1.
Duquesne will next travel to face a GW team it defeated 69-52 on Jan 3 in Pittsburgh. Duquesne has not won at the Charles E. Smith Center in the past five games.
“This is the first time in probably a long time that the games at the end of January mean something,” said Dambrot. “We’ve been in a lot of close games so we are getting older.”
Photo credit: Duquesne Athletics