Duquesne Dukes Comeback Attempt Falls Short


Jan 17, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Duquesne Dukes forward L.G. Gill (33) and Guard Derrick Colter (1) and center Darius Lewis (54) and guard Eric James (2) and guard Jordan Stevens (35) talk on the court against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams during the second half at the CONSOL Energy Center. VCU won 70-64. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Duquesne Dukes men’s basketball team saw its second half comeback against 17th ranked VCU fall just short in a 70-64 loss Saturday at Consol Energy Center.

“I thought our guys played very hard today, played with great purpose and made plays around the court against a nationally ranked team,” coach Jim Ferry said. “Our goal was 12 turnovers we had 16 which I think hurt us. I’m proud of these guys, they were down at the half by 14 against a team as good as this and cut it to two with the basketball but we lost and that’s what’s disappointing right now.”

Duquesne (6-10, 1-4 Atlantic 10) was led in scoring by guard Derrick Colter who had 14 points and four assists before fouling out with 16.2 seconds left in the contest. Forward Dominique McKoy had 12 points and six rebounds however it may have been L.G. Gill who had the biggest contribution with 11 points and seven rebounds off the bench.

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“I kind of let the game come to me,” said Gill. “I know sometimes I just force shots and just try to play to fast. If I play poised I play better. I don’t think about anything I just hit my shots and play hard and aggressively.”

For VCU (15-3, 5-10 Atlantic 10) it was the 10th consecutive win and it came without leading scorer Treveon Graham. Graham (17.1 ppg/6.9 rpg) initially was in the starting line up but just minutes before the game was ruled out and replaced in the starting line up by Terry Larrier.

Leading the way for the Rams was JeQuan Lewis who matched a career high with 16 points and with five assists was one away from tying that career high mark. All of this production came from off the bench.

“He really provided a difference in this game for us,” VCU coach Shaka Smart said. “He was aggressive against the zone, got into the paint, made some big shots and made some big passes for us. This was probably his best game of the year so far.”

Guard Melvin Johnson had 14 points which included a three with 57 seconds that allowed VCU to take a five point lead and would silence the Duquesne crowd. Guard Doug Brooks had 10 points, all in the first half for the Rams which is one off his career high. Smart came away impressed with his performance which was cut short when Brooks tweaked his kneee.

“First and foremost he made shots which is big against a zone, he did a really nice job of playing with poise and stepping up and making shots,” said Smart. “He also did a nice job on some defensive possessions.”

Duquesne opened the game with a 3-0 lead however VCU scored its first nine points via three to counter and take a 9-7 lead into the first media timeout. The Dukes would then take their biggest lead of the game with 13:11 to play in the first half when Eric James converted a layup and was fouled. At this point Duquesne held a 10-4 rebounding advantage and would be a +16 in the statistic for the game.

VCU retook the lead with Brooks made a three point shot with 10:20 to play. This was part of a 21-7 run that when Johnson made another Rams three point basket, he gave the team a 33-22 lead with 2:03 to play. VCU held Duquesne without a basket for 3:58 of the run.

At halftime, Duquesne trailed 40-26. VCU’s Havoc defense allowed the Dukes’ starters only 10 first half points creating foul trouble and limited opportunities.

“When DC (Colter) and Domo (McKoy) got into foul trouble, they really locked in on Micah (Mason),” Ferry said. “Being able to play those guys freely without fouling, I think we had a little more flow to our offense. We held them to 33% in the second half which allowed us to play in conversion which we were able to push the ball and attack while opening up looks for Micah and the other guys.”

Duquesne slowly chipped away in the second half, however it was not until there was 11:45 left in the second half until the Dukes cut the VCU advantage back to single digits for the first time since the 1:58 to play mark in the first half. The score was on a Gill three which got the crowd back into the contest.

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  • For nearly three minutes the Duquesne deficit flipped anywhere between four and six points until Colter found center Darius Lewis for a dunk which cut the VCU lead to 64-62 with 2:26 to play. The Rams were struggling to put the ball in the basket and from the aforemention Gill three to the Lewis dunk, VCU made two field goals. This stretch lasted 9:19 of game action.

    Duquesne was able to get a rebound and have possession going into the media timeout. The Dukes attempted to set up their possession and as the shot clock dwindled, the ball was passed to Micah Mason. Mason was trapped by a double team and was forced to pass. Mason’s pass was intercepted by Mo Alie-Cox.

    “We didn’t get to the play quick enough, that’s what messed us up,” said Colter.

    On the other end, Johnson made the aforementioned three pointer that both sides seemed to agree was the dagger.

    “It wasn’t really a play that we called,” Smart said. “We ran a play earlier in the possession and Duquesne did a good job of guarding it, so those guys were moving the ball looking for gaps and opportunities to drive. The shot clock was running down, Melvin had a little bit of space and rose up and shot it.”

    VCU would add another two free throws to stretch its lead to seven when McKoy put the final nail in Duquesne’s coffin when he was called for a traveling violation after bumping into Colter. McKoy told the media after the game that this was the explanation that the referee gave him, although he insisted he did not travel.

    Ferry called this loss a tough one and when asked why his team has not been able to pull out these kinds of games against challenging opponents, he answered very clearly.

    “We have to work harder and knock this wall down,” said Ferry. “Now we have to pull these games out.”


    Duquesne will have its next game at the A.J. Palumbo Center Thursday against St. Bonaventure with the opening tip coming at 7 pm.

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