Duquesne: Bolding's hot hand helps down Hawks

Saunders' steal in final minute saves Dukes in A-10 game

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There was man-to-man defense.

There was zone defense.

There were all the defensive coaching strategies; the ploys, the help-side, ball side, bumping the cutter, switching, hedging and everything else in one of those how-to coaching manuals.

But when Saint Joseph's stepped out on the A.J. Palumbo Center court Sunday against Duquesne everything came down to the offense.

The oft-cold shooting Dukes (11-10, 2-5) turned on the heat, shooting their way to a 74-71 victory against visiting Saint Joseph's (8-13, 2-5) in an Atlantic 10 Conference contest.

Duquesne, which had shot better than 41 percent just once in conference play going into the game, went 28 for 53 against the Hawks.

The Dukes were paced by Melquan Bolding, who scored 24 points, making nine of the 13 shots he attempted.

The Dukes got a 16th double-double on the season from Damian Saunders, who had 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Saint Joseph's Justin Crosgile and Darrin Govens each had 17. But it was Bolding who was outstanding in front of the crowd of 3,789.

"Garrett Williamson was on his heels," Martelli said of the defender largely responsible for Bolding, the same Williamson who was named to the Atlantic 10 all-defensive team last season.

Bolding connected on six of his first eight shots, pushing the Dukes to a 39-31 halftime advantage while Saint Joseph's shifted from Williamson guarding Bolding head-up to a zone defense.

"I just got into the flow," Bolding said of the first 20 minutes. "And once I started feeling it, and my teammates found me, I just knocked the shots down."

Bolding's pinpoint shooting and a 12-0 Duquesne run late in the first half didn't keep the Hawks from making it a close game down the stretch.

In the second half, the Dukes never led by more than six points and when Saint Joseph's Idris Hilliard -- who had 14 points and 14 rebounds -- tipped in a missed shot with 1:54 left the score was tied, 66-66.

The Dukes then went on top 68-66 to set up the game's most critical play.

With just under a minute left, Saunders ripped the ball loose at midcourt and sailed in free for a breakaway dunk. It was his lone steal of the day.

"Coach [Everhart] told us we needed a stop," said Saunders, who also had seven blocks and three assists. "Me being the defensive person that I am, I look forward to getting the big stop when we need one."

The rest of the Dukes look forward to Saunders, who is making a run at being named first-team all-conference, stepping in and doing something when games are on the line.

"I can count on Damian for anything; blocked shots, rebounds, steals," Bolding said. "I know that he can do anything."

His steal and dunk almost closed the door on the Hawks, but it didn't slam shut until Bryant Irwin's costly travelling violation down two points with eight seconds to play and a missed 3-pointer just before the final horn by Carl Jones.

"I thought both offensively and defensively, we gave a good effort," Everhart said. "And I told our kids that in the locker room. I told them that I was proud of the effort we gave."

Correction/Clarification: (Published Feb. 2, 2010) A quote was incorrectly attributed to Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli in this story as originally published Feb. 1, 2010. Mr. Martelli did not tell Duquesne coach Ron Everhart that his team was going to have to knock down some tough shots to beat St. Joseph's.

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


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