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Duquesne falls in final seconds to St. Bonaventure

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Jaylen Adams scored a career-best 40 points, including a 3-pointer with just five seconds left, which lifted the Bonnies over Duquesne in an 84-81 thriller at the Palumbo Center Saturday night.

Adams' 40 points are a new record for a visitor at the Palumbo.

After Dukes’ guard Tarin Smith tied the game with a three from the corner the possession before, Adams beat him on his last touch of the game. Smith and center Chas Brown were both late on a ball screen, giving Adams an open look deep from left of the key, which he drained.

Forward Eric Williams Jr. took the subsequent inbounds and tossed up a desperation three attempt, but it clanked off the rim.

“I feel bad for our guys. That’s a tough way to go down,” coach Keith Dambrot said. “You know, it’s the second one against two of the better teams in the league, supposedly, right?”

The second one Dambrot was referring to was a 61-58 loss to Rhode Island last Saturday where the Rams hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to win it.

The game-winner was one of eight three-pointers Adams made on the night and one of 11 the Bonnies converted on 23 attempts (47.8%). Coming into the game, Duquesne had the third best three-point defense in the country (28.6%: the lowest in school history).

“I think he just got into a rhythm early,” Smith said. “...That’s on me. I know I’ve got to do better defending him. He’s a tough player, but I should have had him.”

Adams started strong, sinking his first four field goal attempts- including three from behind the arc- to give the Bonnies a quick 22-9 lead.

Duquesne responded shortly after with a 16-0 run, with eight of those points coming from Smith. That gave the Dukes a 34-26 advantage with 3:21 to play in the first. It would be their largest of the night, and they went into halftime up 37-36.

Smith kept rolling in the second half, scoring 14 of his team-high 24 in the final twenty minutes. But Adams’ 26 points in the second half was the difference.

“We didn’t do a very good job [guarding him]. We probably should have trapped him more,” Dambrot said. “It’s rolling the dice because he’s a good enough passer that he can get other people involved, but when a guy gets 40 on you, you’d better think of a different way to guard him.”

Adams also had a game high seven assists. Rene Castro-Caneddy scored 16 points in the first half and 21 overall. Mike Lewis II scored 11, and Williams Jr. had 10.

Duquesne falls to 15-9 on the season and 6-5 in A10 play. St. Bonaventure is now 16-6 overall and 6-4 in the conference.

The Palumbo is Poppin’

Fans are finally starting to fill the A.J. Palumbo center again. Saturday’s game brought 3,411 people to the stadium, which is a new high for the season.

“If we get that kind of crowd every night, we become relevant again in college basketball, which really what we want to be,” Dambrot said.

It has become a home field advantage again for the Dukes, who even with the loss are 12-4 when on the Bluff. Those 12 wins are tied for the most in the Palumbo Center's history (1993-1994).

Larger crowds seem to be a part of it. Last year, the Dukes went 8-10 at home and averaged 1,290 fans in their eight conference games at the Palumbo. That set the pace for their non-conference games this season, averaging 1,296 in their first 10 games.

But Duquesne has drawn 13,804 fans in their first six conference contests at the Palumbo this year, averaging 2,301 per game.

“I wish I could thank all of them personally, because it really just changes the whole atmosphere of the game,” Smith said.

Pulling Teeth

One of Dambrot’s mantras all season has been his team will be “pulling teeth” in close games. The last three weeks have been nothing but close games.

It started Jan. 13 with a triple overtime win over La Salle and was quickly followed with a double OT victory against George Mason on the 20th. The Dukes also squeaked out a 65-63 win on the road against George Washington on Jan. 31.

On the flip side, they lost in overtime against Richmond on Jan. 24 and on a buzzerbeater on the 27th at Rhode Island. While a loss like Saturday is tough for Dambrot and company, the coach said it at least confirms that they are at least competitive, even against the best in the conference.

“I don’t know how many teams really want to play Duquesne at this point,” Dambrot added, later. “I don’t think it’s a lot of fun. They know they’re going to be in a grind it out affair.”

On Deck

The Dukes will travel to Dayton Wednesday to take on the Flyers (10-12, 4-6) at 7:00 p.m.. Duquesne started their conference season with a 70-62 home win against the Flyers on Dec. 30.

The game will be broadcast on Spectrum.

NUMB3RS

1. This is the first time all season Duquesne lost when they were leading with five minutes remaining in the second half (they were up 72-71 at the time). They had won their first 15 games when they held a lead that late.

2. St. Bonaventure outscored Duquesne 20-5 on second chance points, including 12-2 in the second half.

3. Saturday was Smith’s fourth 20-point performance off the bench this season.

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