Duquesne's Damian Saunders celebrates during Saturday's game against Temple at the Palumbo Center.
By Phil Axelrod
Duquesne raced out of the gate, weathered a slew of turnovers and a comeback attempt and finished with style in its most complete performance of the season.
It was a signature victory for the Dukes, which played wire-to-wire with the lead to upset Temple, 78-66, in an Atlantic 10 Conference matchup yesterday at the Palumbo Center.
Temple (12-4, 3-1 A-10), ranked 19th in The Associated Press poll and 23rd in the USA Today/ESPN poll, couldn't match Duquesne's intensity and tenacity at either end of the floor. The undersized Dukes (11-5) won their sixth in a row and are 3-0 in the league for just the second time.
"They scramble you around," Temple coach Fran Dunphy said of the Dukes, who held the Owls without a field goal for nearly the first 12 minutes of the game and led, 24-6, before Temple's Khalif Wyatt hit a 3-pointer from the corner. "You have to meet their toughness with ours and we didn't do it. Their 22-2 start was a great statement by Duquesne and not a great statement for us."
The Dukes made their first five shots -- four from beyond the arc -- and were in front 16-1 before the game was 41/2 minutes old.
"We had to give them our biggest punch. We came to play," said senior forward Bill Clark, who had 22 points, 6 rebounds and took 3 charges. "As we were racking up the points and they only had two, I knew we were playing great 'D.' I feel a lot of times people don't respect our defense. We go after it. The way we were playing it makes us want to play defense even more, even better."
The closest the Owls came the rest of the game was 28-18 late in the first half, but the Dukes finished with a flurry to take a 40-23 lead at halftime.
"Every time we got within sniffing a comeback, they stepped up," Dunphy said. "Clark made some big shots."
"He played like the player of the year in the Atlantic 10," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said of Clark. "He's having that kind of year. He was phenomenal."
Clark got a lot of help from B.J. Monteiro (9 points, career-high 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks), Damian Saunders (10 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals), Mike Talley (11 points) and Eric Evans (13 points).
"He was a grown man today," Clark said of Monteiro, a 6-foot-5 junior swingman. "B.J. was really aggressive and he pretty much shut down Allen."
Lavoy Allen, Temple's 6-foot-9 senior forward, was limited to just 6 points and 6 rebounds. The Owls were led by guard Ramone Moore, who scored all 18 of his points in the second half.
Monteiro's two highlights were alley-oop passes to 6-foot-7 forward Saunders, who threw them down for ferocious dunks. Both came in the second half when Duquesne broke Temple's full-court pressure.
"We've been playing together for three years and I know the spots where he likes the ball," Monteiro said. "I just threw it right up and he went out and got it."
Despite being much smaller than the Owls, the Dukes scrapped and scrambled for a 36-33 rebounding advantage.
"I loved the way we rebounded, I loved the way we defended," Everhart said. "I liked our chemistry all the way around."
Evans, a junior guard who started every game last season, made his first start this season since returning from ankle injury six games ago. He replaced freshman T.J. McConnell, who was benched for the first 10 minutes of the game by Everhart because he was 10 minutes late for the pregame meal.
"He didn't hang his head. He didn't pout. He took his punishment like a man," Everhart said of McConnell, who had 2 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists in 26 minutes. "He played like his butt was on fire."
So did his teammates.
"We have to bring it on defense every game," Clark said.
NOTES -- Temple missed its first 14 shots from the field. ... The Dukes had 13 assists, 19 turnovers, 6 blocks, 3 steals. ... The Owls had 11 assists, 16 turnovers, 5 blocks, 7 steals. ... There were 58 fouls. Duquesne was 30 of 41 from the line and Temple 26 of 37. .... The Dukes were 12 of 18 from the field in the first half and 9 of 26 the second half. ... Duquesne's next game is Wednesday at La Salle.