James' historic night spurs victory
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2008
Updated: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 21:03
After back-to-back losses and falling to 3-4 in their Atlantic 10 Conference schedule, the Duquesne men's basketball team faced a situation where they had to either respond with a strong effort against a respectable team in St. Joseph's, or fall deeper into a quickly widening hole. Last night they didn't just respond; they exploded. The Dukes bounced back from their two worst shooting games of the season to beat the Hawks 102-88 at the A. J. Palumbo Center. They shot 60 percent from the field and 50 percent from three-point range, marking their second-best shooting performance since the regular season opener against Howard.
"I think that we're capable of games like this every night if we just bring that effort every night," said forward/center Shawn James, who finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 10 blocks; the fifth triple-double of his career and first in Duquesne history. "Being able to get one at Duquesne knowing what me and my teammates have been through in the last year and a half, this one is definitely more special than the others."
"I'm very proud of him," Head Coach Ron Everhart said about James. "I've been on him very hard and challenging him. I thought he responded tonight really well, and he really turned up the volume tonight.
Duquesne played strong and tough in a physical game where Kieron Achara had a tooth knocked out and Aaron Jackson had the wind knocked out of him for approximately 30 seconds after taking a knee to the lung. It didn't slow them down, however, as they went on a 22-2 scoring run in the last five minutes of the first half. Jackson closed it out with a three-pointer off the backboard at the buzzer of what might have been their best half of the season.
"As a team, we've kind of bounced off the mat," Everhart said. "We were pretty low after the last couple [games]. I just love the way our guys came out and the energy they came out with."
They also played very aggressively on defense with 16 forced turnovers, seven steals and 15 blocks, tying a school record. They resembled the same Duquesne team that started the regular season with six consecutive wins.
"All of our guys really came out and gave us a great defensive effort," Everhart said. "That's, I think, by far the best defensive effort we've had all year against a very good team."
James, who entered the game shooting a conference-best 58 percent from the floor, shot 7-for-10 with four slam dunks, including two on missed shots and a reverse jam to seal the victory with about a minute remaining. He and freshman Damian Saunders each had five of the Dukes' 23 offensive rebounds. Collectively, they showed the effort and intensity of a team that was eager to put the low point of their season behind them.
"We were tired of saying we played games we should've won," James said, "or that we should've done this, or should've done that. We were just tired of that."
"I was challenging our guys to play like this," Everhart said, "and I'm glad they did. If our guys are going to respond like this to those types of challenges, then we need to continue to challenge them in that way."
With road trips to La Salle, Dayton, and Xavier on the horizon, a win like this is something that James says can help the Dukes going forward into the last six weeks of the season.
"St. Joe's is a tough team to play against, and they're at the top of the league at 6-1," James said, "so for us to go out there and play with that kind of confidence and get a win, I think we can use that as motivation for the rest of the season, knowing we can play against the elite of the A-10.