Duquesne Basketball: Team effort was crucial in first conference victory

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Ask someone what happened at the Palumbo Center Saturday night and, most likely, here's what they will tell you: Melquan Bolding hit a 3-pointer in the waning seconds to give the Dukes a 70-69 win against St. Bonaventure.

That assessment, on the surface at least, would be fair; it would give the most succinct snapshot of what occurred.

That was the biggest drama, the most noticeable play, the one that forced players to jump on each other and the crowd to detonate.

The guy who hits the winning shot gets the recognition, but there was so much more to Duquesne's first Atlantic 10 Conference victory that might have been forgotten about because of all that excitement that happened at the end.

And without all the pieces that came together leading up to when Duquesne's 52nd shot left Bolding's hand, a win couldn't have happened.

How about the pinpoint pass Damian Saunders threw to Bolding on that shot?

With 15 double-doubles, Saunders is known for scoring and rebounding -- but the second of the two assists he had against the Bonnies might have been his most critical play.

The Dukes cleared a way for him, he took his man baseline and then, instead of taking what would have been a tremendously tough layup, he yielded to Bolding with a rocketed pass right to Bolding's ready-to-shoot hands.

"Damian's a guy who understands the sacrifices you have to make to have an opportunity to win basketball games," Everhart said of Saunders, who played in front of two NBA scouts Saturday night. "When the lights come on, that is Damian's time. He lives for the game. He's that tough kid that you want on the floor at the end of the game because you know he's going to make a play."

And he did; it came in the form of an assist.

Bill Clark's contribution, on the other hand, came in the form of doing the dirty work in basketball -- taking a charge.

With less than a minute left and the Bonnies ahead by two, Duquesne needed to get the ball back as time was dwindling.

Clark, who has been mired in a long-range shooting slump, pitched in another way. He took a full-fledged charge where he stood cement-footed and absorbed a tremendous wallop.

"It took large [fortitude] for him to stand in there to take that charge in the chest," Everhart said of Clark. "For as fast as that guard was driving the ball ... but that's pretty much who Billy Clark is. He's that guy.

Clark's defensive effort on that play was indicative of how he played all game against St. Bonaventure. He scored 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting and didn't make a 3-pointer, but he didn't let that affect his effort without the ball in his hands.

And there was more.

Point guard Eric Evans played under control, scoring 15 points and turning the ball over just once.

Also, off the bench in a new role, Jason Duty was more than solid in 21 minutes, and big man Morakinyo Williams -- in one of the team's most compelling stats -- committed no turnovers for the fourth time in five games.

So when you think about Duquesne' first Atlantic 10 win, sure, what happened last -- Bolding's end-game shot -- will be thought about first.

But to remember only that would be to forget about all the other pieces that propelled the Dukes to a win.

Colin Dunlap: cdunlap@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1459.


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