Dukes easily escape from Spiders’ web
Richmond had won last 14 since joining the Atlantic 10
Published: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 8, 2012 22:02
It took 14 attempts, but coach Ron Everhart and his seniors Eric Evans and B.J. Monteiro finally claimed the program's first win against Richmond since the Spiders joined the Atlantic 10 in 2001. The Dukes struck gold in their 14th matchup, 81-72 in the Chuck Cooper Classic Saturday night.
A strong 15-point second half performance from Evans pushed a four-point halftime lead wide open in the second half, and Sean Johnson and Jerry Jones poured in 14 points each as a balanced Dukes offense proved too much for the Spiders.
Evans, who felt relieved to finally beat the one Atlantic 10 team he hadn't topped in his four-year career, attacked the rim hard in the last 20 minutes of action.
"After the first couple times I got the ball, I saw there was a clear lane and I wanted to keep attacking. I think I got the ball three times in a row so that had a big part of it," Evans said. He now sits at 991 career points, and will likely join Monteiro as the 36th member of the 1,000-point club at Duquesne.
The sixth-year coach said he didn't stress over his 0-5 record versus Richmond entering the game, but rather what the game meant for basketball.
"I've never really thought much about it. There is no exorcism or anything like that. Richmond's had a real good ball club for a lot of years, they're still really good," Everhart said. "I am really satisfied that we were able to do that tonight, not so much as in that it was against Richmond, but in terms of who we were honoring, what it meant, what Chuck Cooper meant to basketball period. He's basketball's Jackie Robinson
... That transcends time."
The balanced offense along with stifling defense helped the Dukes improve to 14-9 and 5-4 in the Atlantic 10. Duquesne never trailed in the game, jumping to a 9-0 start opening with a T.J. McConnell drive and lay-in and concluding with a McConnell 3-pointer. The red and blue pleased a complete sellout crowd of 4,481 red-clad fans with three blocks and eight steals, forcing 16 turnovers from a team that came in only giving up the ball 10.8 times per game.
Evans opened the lead to 13 points at 68-55 by hitting two of three foul shots before Wayne Sparrow responded with a three of his own on the other end of the floor with 3:22 to play in the second half. Evans and the Dukes jumped back out again on a shot-clock buzzer-beating 3-pointer that banked off the backboard for Evans, who shook his head and smiled returning up the floor on defense.
Richmond freshman Kendall Anthony drained another from beyond the arc on the other end of the floor, but a steady dose of Duquesne red penetrating the offensive paint kept the Dukes' lead safe as they strolled to a nine-point win.
The Dukes outrebounded the Spiders 39-31, with many Richmond boards coming in garbage time. Duquesne had a dominating 13 offensive boards, four from Jerry Jones, and three from Monteiro.
"Our guards are doing a lot better job rebounding," Monteiro said. "We need help down there ‘cause we're a small team. They're doing a great job."
Evans said it's a team focus to have all five guys on the floor looking for rebounds and Duquesne crushed Richmond with those offensive rebounds, scoring 17 second chance points and holding the Spiders to just four, both scores coming in the closing minutes.
Monteiro knew the win was important in the sense of his career, but also because it puts the Dukes within 2 games of the conference lead with seven games to play.
"That [Richmond] was the only team in the league we haven't beaten yet so it was important for all of us to get that win," he said.
McConnell and Monteiro were the fourth and fifth players to post double-digit points in a strong team performance.
"I thought everybody who played in the game tonight for us made a play that helped us win that game," Everhart said.