When Duquesne went on the road and lost to IUPUI Saturday -- a game it felt it should have won -- the Dukes had a soul-searching, one-sided meeting when they got back home.
Coach Ron Everhart "told us there were too many players on this team out for themselves," junior swingman Damian Saunders said.
The message sent was a message received -- loudly, clearly and applied as soon as possible.
Last night, in a brilliant bounce-back performance serving as the antithesis of selfishness, the Dukes (9-4) used every guy on their bench, shared the ball and breezed to an 86-56 non-conference victory against Saint Francis (Pa.) (3-9) at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
"We looked like the Duquesne team I envision every night when we come out of the tunnel," Everhart said. "It was something I really liked, the way we were bouncing, the way we were flying around and everything. I thought our guys played with a lot of energy and gave a good effort."
Saunders had his 10th double-double of the season (which leads the nation) as he scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.
Point guard Eric Evans, who knocked down 3 of 4 shots from 3-point range, finished with 16 points and swingman Bill Clark had 16 points for a Dukes team that led, 47-29, at halftime due in large part to making seven 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes.
Those seven 3-pointers in the first half alone represented more than the Dukes had in any of the past five full games.
"We shot the ball real good tonight and it starts with good ball movement," Evans said. "Everyone was passing well and we were able to make shots. Whoever got the ball was able to penetrate and kick, and it seemed like whoever was open was able to knock down a shot."
Conversely, as Duquesne made its first 10 of 11 shots in the second half and finished the final 20 minutes shooting 15 for 23 from the field, the Red Flash struggled. Saint Francis got 12 points from Umar Shannon and 11 from Sorena Orandi, but no one else on its side was able to make more than three shots.
For Everhart, though, it was vastly different.
Whomever he looked to at his bench bought into what the Dukes were attempting to do last night.
As a measure of the Dukes' ability to get everyone involved, consider this: Ten players scored at least a point for Duquesne and the team had a season-high 20 assists. Seldom-used forward David Theis -- who had played one minute all season going into this game -- got in the game for nine minutes, scored on a clever backdoor layup and drew a charge on the subsequent possession.
A few minutes later, Morakinyo Williams, the rarely used 7-foot center who transferred from Kentucky, entered the game and went 2 for 2 from the field, scored four points and grabbed four rebounds in five minutes.
Those points by Williams and Theis helped the Dukes to a season-high 19 bench points.
"I really felt like, for the first time, people saw us share the ball like we are capable of sharing the ball," Everhart said. "It just comes down to our guys wanting to make the extra pass and share the ball with their teammates."
Colin Dunlap can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1459.