These are the kind of losses that cause coaches to lose sleep.
The 84-80 overtime loss Duquesne sustained Thursday night against Massachusetts at the A.J. Palumbo Center will be remembered as one of the most cruel in the Ron Everhart era.
"I'm just as disappointed as I could be," he said as he opened his postgame statements, the toll of the Atlantic 10 Conference loss obvious on his face and in his voice.
Duquesne let a 16-point lead it built three times, the last of which with 17:24 remaining in regulation, fritter away to a team that had lost three consecutive games and eight of its past nine.
Sure, Massachusetts senior guard Ricky Harris got hot and ended up with 29 points, 22 in the second half and overtime, as he knocked in five 3-pointers. And junior teammate Anthony Gurley came off the bench to score 20 points as he hammered in four 3-pointers.
But that wasn't all that fueled a comeback win for the Minutemen (9-15, 3-7) in a game in which B.J. Monteiro led the Dukes (12-12, 3-7) with 18 points and Damian Saunders had 15.
In the most telling statistic, the Dukes were outrebounded, 60-33.
And the five-minute overtime didn't do much to skew those numbers: At the end of regulation, the Dukes were outrebounded, 53-30.
Asked if, at some point, those numbers are an indicator not of skill, but of effort, Everhart replied, quickly and sternly, "Yes."
What Massachusetts coach Derek Kellogg saw was a performance in which 6-foot-9 sophomore forward Sean Carter simply wanted it more than all those other players when the ball came off the rim.
Carter finished with 11 points and 19 rebounds, 11 of those rebounds on the offensive end. Of his five field goals, Carter had four follow-up dunks.
"He was all over the glass," Monteiro said of Carter. "We knew what we were supposed to do, we knew he could rebound. It was said all over the scouting report. But it seemed like he was getting good bounces and he was getting up there and he was finishing."
Carter in the post and Harris and Gurley on the outside served to finish off a Dukes team that looked to have so much promise in the early going.
Duquesne rocketed to a 9-0 advantage, made it 21-8 and looked to be cruising.
But as Massachusetts started to claw back, trailing by 41-29 at halftime, those components that have stricken Duquesne all season began to show.
Again, the Dukes' free-throw shooting caught up to them, as they went 18 for 28.
And again, in the biggest number other than the rebounding, the Dukes grew icy from the field over the last 25 minutes. In the second half and overtime, Duquesne made 12 of its 38 attempts from the field, while the Minutemen were busy burying 19 of 37.
On a night when Saunders became the 33rd player in school history to eclipse 1,000 points, the Dukes looked, deep into the game, as if they might celebrate after all the tumult, building a 78-74 advantage with 3:13 remaining in overtime.
That, though, like this whole night, crumbled right in front of them.
"That was a good old-fashioned fight where both teams were throwing punches," said Kellogg, a former star player with the Minutemen. "It was two teams competing at a high level and, unfortunately, one team had to lose."
Unfortunately for Everhart, it was a loss that won't quickly -- if ever -- be forgotten.
Colin Dunlap: email@example.com or 412-263-1459. First Published February 12, 2010 5:00 AM