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Dukes snap losing skid, thump turnover-prone Minutemen

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Damian Saunders dominated with 14 points, 13 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 blocks as five Dukes scored in double-figures in Duquesne's impressive 81-63 trouncing of UMass. Bill Clark had 16 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds.

Duquesne 81 - Massachusetts 63
William D. Mullins Center, Amherst, MA

Someone should have warned these Minutemen about Duquesne's pestering defense and prolific offense riding into Massachusetts. Determined to avoid a third straight loss, the Dukes tied a school record with 17 steals and Bill Clark, T.J. McConnell, Damian Saunders, Mike Talley and B.J. Monteiro had double-digit scoring efforts as Duquesne thumped the Minutemen 81-63 Wednesday night at the William D. Mullins Center.

Looking to put bitter losses to St. Bonaventure and Xavier in the past, Duquesne (17-7, 9-2) matched its school record steals total for the third time this season. The Dukes also swiped the ball 17 times in January road games against Houston Baptist and La Salle. Overall, Duquesne forced Massachusetts (13-11, 5-6) into 23 turnovers, converting those Minutemen errors into 30 points.

The Dukes darted out to a 16-4 lead and went up by a full 20 points after a pair of Monteiro free throws made it 26-6 with 7:41 left in the first half. The Minutemen managed to narrow the deficit to nine points after a Jesse Morgan layup with 13:39 left in the game, but Clark quickly responded with a 3-pointer and a dunk for Duquesne. UMass trailed by double digits from 13:21 on in the second half.

Clark scored 16 points for the visitors, hitting four of his eight attempts from deep while chipping in seven assists, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal. McConnell and Saunders starred on both sides of the ball. The freshman guard scored 15 and added five assists and steals apiece. Saunders also swiped five balls while blocking four shots and posting a double-double (14 points, 13 rebounds). Also scoring in the double digits for the Dukes were Mike Talley and Monteiro, with 13 and 12 points, respectively.

Though it didn't come back to bite them in a blowout, Duquesne again saw free throws roll off the rim (9-16 from the line, 56.3 percent). The team entered play last in the A-10 from the charity stripe.

UMass outrebounded Duquesne 45-35, but the club compounded bad ball handling by shooting just 35.9 percent from the field (44.8 percent for the Dukes).

Morgan, a freshman who signed a letter of intent with Seton Hall but instead played at a Connecticut prep school before transferring to UMass mid-year, led the Minutemen with 14 points. The 6-5 guard, eligible to play since late December, knocked down a pair of 3-pointers for a team that went 3-of-14 overall (21.4 percent) from deep.

Terrell Vinson scored twelve points and had seven rebounds, and Raphiael Putney narrowly missed a double-double by scoring 10 and getting nine boards. Anthony Gurley, UMass' leading scorer, scuffled to the tune of nine points on 3-for-13 shooting. Gurley has shot a combined 16-for-57 (28.1 percent) during a four-game losing streak for the Minutemen.

FG%: DUQ 44.8, MASS 35.9
FT%: DUQ 56.3, MASS 87.5
3-PT: DUQ 37.5, MASS 21.4
RBS: DUQ 35, MASS 45

DUQ- Clark 16; MASS Morgan 14
Rebounds: DUQ- Saunders 13; MASS Putney 9
Assists: DUQ- Clark 7; MASS Correia 4
Blocks: DUQ- Saunders 4; MASS Sampson Carter, Sean Carter, Putney, Vinson 1
Steals: DUQ- McConnell, Saunders 5; MASS Sampson Carter, Farrell, Morgan 2

Duquesne travels to Dayton for a high-noon rematch Saturday with the Flyers. The Dukes dominated Dayton (18-9, 6-6) at CONSOL Energy Center on January 30 for an 82-64 win. UMass heads to Rhode Island for a 2 p.m. matchup Saturday against the Rams. Like the Flyers, the Rams will be looking for payback: the Minutemen bested Rhode Island 64-54 on January 30.

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