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Dukes hold off Fordham in A-10 opener

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Emile Blackman scored 17 points, including six in the final 1:14, as Duquesne held off Fordham to win their Atlantic-10 opener, 75-72.

BRONX, NY - Emile Blackman led five Duquesne players in double figures with 17 points as the Dukes held off Fordham for a 75-72 win at Rose Hill Gym in the Atlantic 10 opener for both schools.

The win was the fourth in a row for the Dukes, who moved to 8-6 overall. The loss dropped Fordham to 6-8 overall and 6-3 at home.

Blackman and Mike Lewis II, who finished with 15, were big down the stretch, combining for nine consecutive points after Fordham took a 66-64 lead with 2:56 left.

Lewis II started the run with a 3-pointer. Blackman followed with a big put back, then Lewis II and Blackman followed with two free throws each to make it 73-66 with 12 seconds left.

"We talk about what league play is about and that was a typical league basketball game," said Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry. "What's that they say, `onions?', I thought Mike showed that on that last 3-pointer. We showed great composure as a group tonight."

First-year graduate transfer Kale Abrahamson came off the bench to post his first career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Nakye Sanders and Isiaha Mike contributed 10 points each.

Duquesne outrebounded Fordham 59-32. The 27-board margin was Duquesne's largest in five seasons under Ferry.

DU turned it over just 13 times against a Fordham defense that entered the game ranked second nationally in turnovers forced per game at 20.7.

"I thought we did a great job of not turning the ball over," said Ferry. "Against some teams, 13 turnovers may sound like a lot, but not against these guys. We did a good job of staying aggressive. That was our mindset entering the game and I think our guys really followed through."

Duquesne held Fordham to nine field goals, while outrebounding the Rams 35-14 in jumping out to a 40-28 halftime lead.

DU missed 11 of its first 14 shots to opend the second half, as Fordham cut the lead to 46-43. The Dukes responded with a pair of Lewis II free throws followed by a Rene Castro 3-pointer - the first after five 3-point misses to open the half - to make it 51-43 with 12:17 left.

Castro had 7 points, 4 rebounds and a team-high 5 assists with just one turnover in 30 minutes off the bench.

Fordham tied it for the first time on a steal and layup by Joseph Chartouny with just over five minutes remaining.

Antwoine Anderson, who scored all six of his points in the final seven-plus minutes, hit a layup to give Fordham its first lead at 65-64 with 3:45 to go.

Anderson made one of two free throws to make it a two-point game before the Lewis II/Blackman 9-0 run.

"Its a game of flows," said Ferry. "We could have easily lost that game when they took that lead - maybe earlier this season we would have. The way we finished, shows the maturity we've gained as a group.

"When you shoot 39 percent from the field, go 6-of-28 from 3-point and 68 percent from the line and win on the road, that shows a lot of character. We got meaningful contributions from a lot of players."

Duquesne hosts VCU in its Atlantic 10 home opener on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at 7:00 p.m. (ASN). It will be the Rams first visit to the A.J. Palumbo Center (DU's two previous home games versus VCU were played at PPG Paints Arena).

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