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Duquesne holds off late Robert Morris comeback in 72-65 win

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Derrick Colter scored 19 points and ‎Duquesne‬ dominated ‪‎Robert Morris‬ on the glass as the Dukes outlasted the Colonials 72-65.

PITTSBURGH - Duquesne had to hold off a late Robert Morris comeback to snap their five-game losing streak against the Colonials (2-10) and improve to 10-2 on the season.

Colter, who made just 4 of his 17 field goal attempts, made six free throws in the final minute to seal the victory. Colter and backcourt-mate Micah Mason combined to shoot just 7-for-32 from the field.

“It’s what we expected. We knew coming into this game it would be a battle. It is every year,” Mason said. “We knew they’d come in and give us everything they had.”

Duquesne’s ability to win the battle of the boards was the difference, out-rebounding RMU 59-33, including 21 offensive rebounds. Duquesne shot just 4-27 (18.2 percent) from behind the arc and 37.7 percent overall.

“You’ve got to pick your poison,” Robert Morris head coach Andrew Toole said. “When they make threes, they’re killer...If you’re going to pick a way to get beat, you’ve got to see if they can beat you on the glass.”

Robert Morris and Duquesne could not get into any offensive rhythm early, mainly due to ugly mistakes and missed opportunities. The Colonials went into the half shooting just 10-29 from the field and 3-12 from three, while the Dukes were 12-34 and 2-16 from behind the arc. Duquesne did out rebound the Colonials 32-17 in the first half, but nine turnovers created a lot of missed opportunities.

Mason was held in check, going 2-7 from the field and 1-5 for three. Derrick Colter fared even worse, going 1-8 from the field and 1-5 from downtown.

The only player for Duquesne that produced offensively with any consistency was Eric James, who entered when Jeremiah Jones limped off the court with a knee injury six minutes into the game. In just nine first-half minutes, James racked up nine points and four boards.

“I just wanted to get the win for Jeremiah,” James said. “...I had to step up.”

Jones, the Dukes’ third-leading scorer this season at 10.1 points per game, had a bag of ice wrapped around his knee and did not return.

After James tipped-in Mason’s misfire, the Dukes built a seven point lead that was later extended to 30-20 with 4:46 left when Mason made his one three of the half.

Robert Morris got the last five points of the half, and thanks in part to guard Rodney Pryor’s 11 points, the Colonials were down just 35-30. Colter did give the fans a little jolt before the break when he sunk a three-quarter court shot, but he did not get it off before the buzzer went off.

RMU’s 2-3 zone continued to give Duquesne’s offense fits throughout the second. When asked if he anticipated other teams trying to emulate RMU’s style of play to stop the three, Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry responded “Yeah. Wouldn’t you?”

Duquesne needed to rely on getting points in the paint, and they were able to do that early on in the half. With 14:30 remaining, Mason fed TySean Powell a beautiful alley-oop to give the Dukes a 45-39 advantage. Two minutes later, Colter and James connected on a slam dunk of their own to make it 49-41.

But the Colonials did not go away, and forward Eljiah Minnie carried them, scoring 17 of his 23 points in the second half. Minnie’s layup with 5:04 brought RMU back to within 61-54, and two three pointers by Pryor made it 62-60 with 3:43 left to play. With 2:20 remaining, Billy Giles drew a foul on James to go to the line with the Colonials down 64-62. He made his first free throw, but missed his second, letting the Dukes hang onto their evaporating lead.

During Duquesne’s next possession, Mason committed a costly turnover, and it appeared that Matty McConnell would take it the length of the court to give the Colonials the lead. Colter was able to catch up to him though and got a huge block before Powell got the ball, was fouled and made two.

With the game still up for grabs, Colter iced it at the line. Despite being just 3-17 from the court, the senior guard was 11-11 at the line, and made the last six shots at the line to protect the lead and ice the game.

“We showed a lot of maturity a growth today,” Ferry said. “It was a really good college basketball game.”

James ended the game with 13 points and a career high eight boards, while Colter had 19 and Mason had 10.

The Colonials’ Pryor ended the night 5-9 from three and with 22 points.

ON DECK:
Duquesne will be off for 10 days, returning to action on the 29th at Georgia Tech. It will be their last game of 2015 and their last non-conference game of the season.

NUMB3RS:
1. Duquesne tied a team record by winning its 10th game before New Years. The last time it did that was the 1953-54 season (10-0).

2. The 26 rebound difference was the most for Duquesne since 2012.

3. Duquesne outscored RMU in the paint 20-4 in the first half (36-18 final).

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