Atlantic 10 Tournament: Duquesne has no desire for a replay
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A familiar travel route awaits -- north on Interstate 79 and then a right turn into New York state.
Some familiar faces await -- those St. Bonaventure basketball players, decked out in sparkling white uniforms with brown trim.
But a familiar feeling?
Duquesne doesn't want any part of that.
No, when Duquesne travels there tonight for the opening round of the Atlantic 10 men's basketball tournament, the Dukes (16-14) want this to be very different from their most recent trip to St. Bonaventure (14-15).
Duquesne, No. 9 seed, will play the Bonnies, No. 8 seed, in a rematch of the next-to-last regular-season game played Wednesday, when St. Bonaventure rode the crest of 9-for-18 shooting from 3-point range and turned it into a 92-80 victory.
• Game: No. 9 seed Duquesne (16-14) vs. No. 8 seed St. Bonaventure (14-15), 7 p.m. today, Reilly Center, St. Bonaventure, N.Y.
• Radio, Internet: KQV-AM (1410) and GoDuquesne.com.
• Duquesne: Split two regular-season meetings with the Bonnies, winning in Pittsburgh in January, then losing Wednesday at St. Bonaventure. ... The winner will face top-seeded Temple (26-5) at noon Friday at Atlantic City, N.J. ... Junior swingman Bill Clark is averaging 19.5 points in the past six games.
• St. Bonaventure: Is 9-5 at the Reilly Center this season and has won four of its past five. ... Sophomore Andrew Nicholson, the 2009 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, is averaging 24.3 points and 8.5 rebounds in four career games against Duquesne.
• Of note: This is the second time Duquesne has entered the conference tournament as a No. 9 seed. In 1990, the No. 9 Dukes, behind 44 points from senior Mark Stevenson, defeated No. 8 Saint Joseph's 96-70 at Philadelphia's Palestra. Duquesne then lost, 61-50, to top-seeded Temple.
The winner will advance to the quarterfinal and play No. 1 seed Temple (26-5) at noon Friday in Atlantic City, N.J.
With practice wrapping up Monday at the Palumbo Center as the Dukes were going over preparations for St. Bonaventure, the cliché machine was working full bore, pumping out some predictable quick-hitters.
"It's playoff time, you win or go home," Duquesne sophomore swingman Melquan Bolding said. "And I'm not trying to end the season."
Duquesne coach Ron Everhart added, "It is do or die, win or go home. It is a good time of year."
It would be a better time of year for these Dukes if they could do something they failed to do six days ago at St. Bonaventure -- get a hand in the face of Bonnies' sharpshooter Chris Matthews.
As Duquesne traveled to St. Bonaventure last week, much of the talk centered around the Bonnies' terrific post player, 6-foot-9 sophomore Andrew Nicholson. He ended up doing the expected, scoring 21 points and causing problems on the low block.
If it had just been Nicholson having a solid game, Duquesne probably would have been victorious.
Instead, he got perimeter help, lots of perimeter help, from Matthews.
Early on, Matthews found a way to slip into the creases of the Duquesne transition defense and hit a couple of deep jumpers.
That got him started on a day where the senior ended up with 21 points, drilling six of the 10 3-pointers he attempted.
If that happens again tonight, if the Dukes fail to stop Matthews in transition, Duquesne's chances of advancing could end in a one-and-done scenario.
"Matthews, we just have to identify him quicker in transition," Everhart said. "We have to make him dribble the ball more and make him become more of a playmaker."
After Matthews made those first few last time, he hit a rhythm. The Dukes started to overplay him and he used a pump fake to get free and knock down jumpers.
"When he got going [last week], we allowed him to use his shot fakes," Everhart said. "Then, when we did do a good job of finding him and closing out on him, he used his shot fake and got by us and made some shots."
Surely Matthews, who averages just 12.2 points per game, can't hurt the Dukes again tonight the way he did Wednesday.
Surely, his hand isn't still hot, right?
"You never know," Bolding said. "If they are on, they are on. ... But if we just stop Chris Matthews, make him dribble and put it on the floor, he's not going to shoot it like that again."
First Published March 9, 2010 12:00 am