Atlantic 10 Tournament: Duquesne falls to Saint Joseph's

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- The old Duquesne, the one that won 11 consecutive games earlier this season, made an appearance Friday at Boardwalk Hall.

The fast-paced offense, the stifling full-court press and turnover-forcing double teams, the points off turnovers, it was all there. Saint Joseph's was patient, though. It waited until it found holes in the defense. Then took advantage of them.

The No. 12-seeded Hawks made two open dunks, one with one second left in regulation and one in overtime, and won, 93-90, against No. 4 seed Duquesne in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 tournament, sending Duquesne home after one tournament game for the second consecutive year.

The Dukes (18-12) lost seven of their final nine games after starting the season 16-5. Saint Joseph's (11-21), which beat No. 5 George Washington in the first round Tuesday, adjusted to Duquesne's defense, slowed the pace of the game and found opportunities.

"At the end of the day, we maybe got beat by a better team today," Dukes coach Ron Everhart said.

Duquesne's pressure disrupted Saint Joseph's, forcing 17 turnovers and netting 13 steals. It also created gaps and passing lanes for the Hawks when they broke free.

"It was a little bit of a feast-or-famine deal for us today because in that same press, when they were able to split the traps and get it out of there, they had some open looks," Everhart said.

The Hawks began to wait the Dukes out, taking shots near the end of the shot clock and playing at their pace.

"They just started slowing the ball up, and I think that messed with us a little bit," senior forward Damian Saunders said. "Being the team that we are, we like to run a lot and, you know, get up in people, and we really didn't execute that tonight on the defensive end."

Sophomore Sean Johnson hit two free throws to put Duquesne ahead, 78-75, with 29 seconds left in regulation. He shot two more free throws with 17 seconds left, but only made one, and Duquesne's lead was two. The Dukes defended well on the Hawks' final possession, but Saint Joseph's freshman Ronald Roberts came open under the basket and dunked to tie the score, 79-79, with 1.5 seconds remaining.

In overtime, Hawks freshman Langston Galloway made a layup and senior guard Charoy Bentley made a 3-pointer to put Saint Joseph's ahead, 88-82, with 2:37 remaining. Baskets by Saunders and freshman T.J. McConnell cut the lead to two, but Hawks freshman C.J. Aiken's open dunk with 31 seconds left made it 90-86.

Down three points, McConnell took a 3-pointer from the right wing that hit off the front of the rim as time expired."

The Hawks will face No. 9 seed Dayton, which beat No. 1 seed Xavier earlier Friday, in the semifinals today at 1 p.m.

Sophomore guard Carl Jones led the Hawks with 28 points and made 12 of 15 free-throw attempts.

Roberts scored 19 points and made 9 of 11 field goals. Clark and Saunders each had 21 points for Duquesne, and Saunders added 11 rebounds.

Saint Joseph's led by as many as 11 in the second half, but Duquesne worked its way back. Duquesne forced eight second-half turnovers and scored 15 points off them. After Clark hit a 3-pointer to tie the score, 74-74, with 1:58 left, McConnell stole the ball and made a layup to give Duquesne a two-point lead.

Several Duquesne layups rolled off the rim, and Jones kept the Hawks ahead by scoring six of their 14 points in overtime.

"It was real nervous, I was, and I was also real tired, exhausted, but I just tried to do whatever I had to do to win the game," Jones said. "Whether it was score, pass, rebound, defense, just try to win the game."

Jones did all those things, and, in doing so, ended Duquesne's conference tournament experience.

Bill Brink: . First Published March 12, 2011 5:00 AM


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