PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – When Duquesne was likely at it’s lowest this year, without a few players, down 17 at home to Rhode Island, the Dukes found a way.
“I lost my mind at halftime,” said head coach Keith Dambrot. “I challenged them to put more energy to playing the competition than bitching at each other. I told them if they played hard they would be surprised by the result.”
Many were surprised, maybe as much that the game-winner came from a guard who played for Pitt last year.
Senior Ryan Murphy scored his only points on a jumper with just over a minute to play to complete the comeback as Duquesne beat the Rams 71-69.
“That was a big shot,” Dambrot said. “He had some struggles, but he’s a good shooter and good offensive player. We need to get him out there more because he can score.”
It’s just his seventh game with the Dukes, Murphy took only three shots and played 16 minutes. The California native is with his fourth team of his college career. He is also paying his own way to play.
“In the first half they were like the Harlem Globetrotters but they didn’t grab our throat when they had the opportunity,” Dambrot said of the first half. “If you allow people to hang around, that’s what happens.”
It’s the 14th time in the last three years for Dambrot at Duquesne where the Dukes came back from down double-digits to win.
“It’s marching up and down the field in football and you don’t score,” Dambrot said of what happened with the Rams. “Or you kick a field goal when you should have scored a touchdown. Pretty soon, the momentum switches and you are in trouble.”
Chad Baker was 5-5 from three and 6-7 field goals for 19 points and 5 of the Dukes 18 assists. The 6’7” freshman forward found out earlier in the day one of his very good friends from high school in New Jersey passed away.
“I was very emotional,” Baker said. “That was just going through my head and just played this game for him. The rest of the season is going to be for him.”
Dealing again with foul trouble, when Mike Hughes was on the court. He was special. Hughes had a 9th career double-double finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
“He was the best big player on the floor tonight when it really mattered,” Dambrot said. “He made some unbelievable blocks and changes at the rim which changed the game. If we can keep Mike Hughes in the game and he continues to progress in terms of his conditioning and his ability to score around the rim. We have a chance to win. If we can’t keep him in the game, we are in deep trouble.”
Dukes shot a season best 50% from the floor improve to 4-5 despite being outrebounded by 14 (18-4 on the offensive glass).
Moving a game scheduled for March, the Dukes will host St. Bonaventure Saturday at the Kerr Fitness Center at LaRoche University at 7p on Saturday.
“I guess we’re not dead yet,” Dambrot said. “You thought we were, didn’t you.”