Duquesne: Clark's big game a shot in the arm

Scores 34 points in Dukes' must-win effort

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When Duquesne took the floor Sunday afternoon against La Salle, in what amounted to a must-win Atlantic 10 Conference game for the Dukes, they rolled out two things not featured in some time.

The first was the return of the platoon system which lasted for the better part of the first half.

The second? Well, that lasted all day and proved the biggest difference, doing far more than any madcap substitution pattern ever could.

Next up

• Game: Duquesne (13-12, 4-7 A-10) at Charlotte (18-6, 8-2), 7 p.m., Wednesday.

• Where: Halton Arena.

• Radio: KQV-AM 1410.

The second component was the return of junior swingman Bill Clark as the most potent jump-shooter on the floor. He propelled Duquesne (13-12, 4-7 Atlantic 10) to a 103-82 victory against the undermanned Explorers (11-13, 3-7) at the Palumbo Center.

Clark had a career-high 34 points and surpassed 1,000 career points early in the second half, becoming the 34th player in school history to eclipse the mark.

Melquan Bolding scored 24 points for the Dukes, Damian Saunders had 13 points and 14 rebounds and La Salle guard Rodney Green was marvelous for a team that dressed only eight players due to injury, scoring 27.

But make no mistake, this was Bill Clark's day. He went 11 for 14 from the field in a game that Duquesne fell behind by 14 points early on, clawed back and tied, 49-49, at halftime and used a 37-18 surge out of halftime to run away to victory.

Clark's 4-for-7 effort from 3-point range was what the Dukes have been waiting for from him for the better part of a month. His recent long-range shooting woes have been well-publicized and, in some ways, hindering the Dukes.

To better understand how Clark's accomplishment was an escape from his recent woes, consider this: In the month of January, he made two 3-pointers.

More than a few times, even through the deep drought, Duquesne coach Ron Everhart called Clark "maybe the best shooter in the conference."

Clark sure looked that way last season, but skeptics might just have been beginning to wonder about the accuracy of Everhart's claim ... until yesterday.

"Billy Clark and I, Jason Duty and I, Damian Saunders and I, have been through some pretty difficult times in terms of our basketball program developing into whatever anybody says it is at this point," Everhart said. "From my standpoint, Billy Clark is a dyed in the wool jump-shooter ... I absolutely believed that kid was going to come back and have a day like this. I think he's going to continue to keep having days like this if he quits thinking about it and goes and plays."

As for Clark's thoughts on his big day, perhaps it had to do with a bit of a scheduling quirk.

"We didn't have shootaround [before the game]," he said. "Maybe we don't need to have shootarounds anymore."

That, more than likely, won't happen. What might, though, is spurts through the five games remaining in regular season where Everhart, as he did Sunday to begin the game, goes with some of the "10-40" substitution pattern.

The tactic is simple: Five players play for a short burst and then are substituted -- in a wholesale manner -- by five more players, who then play for a short burst.

Everhart used the "10-40" for the better portion of the first half, but then went to a more traditional, substitution pattern. It was a strategy he used out of necessity due to lack of depth in his first season with the Dukes (2006-07).

"I think we have been a little lethargic the last couple times out," Everhart said. "We have 10 guys who are busting their tail in practice every day, so why not put two units together and try to balance them."

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


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