PREVIEW: @DuqMBB at UMass
March 1, 2018
Duquesne (16-14, 7-10), which snapped a six-game losing streak with a 76-69 home win over Saint Louis on Wednesday, heads to Amherst, Mass. to face Massachusetts (11-19, 4-13) in the regular-season finale for both schools. A victory would clinch Duquesne’s first winning season since 2011-12 (16-15). UMass, which is looking to end a six-game skid, is 10-6 at home.
Duquesne’s seven conference wins are its most since 2011-12 (7-9). A victory would give DU its most A-10 wins since 2010-11 (10-6) The Dukes, who enter Saturday’s play in a four-way tie for ninth with Dayton, George Washington and La Salle, can finish no higher than ninth. A Duquesne win would clinch at worst a 10th place finish and a bye to Thursday’s second round of the Atlantic 10 Championship. DU was picked to finish 14th in the preseason poll of A-10 coaches and media.
• Duquesne is 12-2 when holding opponents under 70 points and 15-1 when leading with 5:00 left.
• DU’s three overtime games in 2017-18 are its most since a school record six in 2009-10.
• Eric Williams Jr., a four-time A-10 Rookie of the Week, has six double-doubles in 17 league games. His 13 double-digit rebound games & 11 double-doubles rank second in the conference. His 11 double-doubles on the season have tied the DU freshman record set by Bruce Atkins in 1978-79).
• Williams Jr. took over the team scoring lead (14.7 ppg.) with his team-high 19 points on Feb. 21 at St. Bonaventure. Williams Jr., who also leads DU in rebounding (8.8 rpg.), is bidding to become just the second freshman in school history to lead the Dukes in both categories, joining Wayne Smith (16.6, 6.2) who accomplished the feat in 1998-99.
• Williams Jr. broke the freshman record for 3-pointers in a season with is 4-of-6 showing vs. Saint Louis. Williams Jr. (66-of-177, .373) eclipsed the old mark of 63 set by teammate Mike Lewis II last year.
• Williams Jr., who ranks fourth on DU’s freshman total points list, needs 25 to pass record holder Wayne Smith (466 in 1999). His 265 rebounds are 26 shy of passing Dick Ricketts (290 in 1952) for most by a DU freshman.
• Rene Castro-Caneddy, who entered the season with a 5.0 ppg. scoring average, is scoring at a 13.2 ppg. clip. He has scored in double digits 11 times, and totaled 20 or more six times in 17 A-10 games. His 13.7 ppg. scoring average in conference play is second on the team.
• Tarin Smith, who entered this season with 21 3-pointers in 63 career games, has 37 3-pointers in 30 games this year. Smith, who entered the season a .256 career 3-point shooter (.212 at Duquesne), is shooting .339 this season.
• Mike Lewis II ranks 7th DU’s career 3-pointers list with 145. He needs 119 points to become DU’s 39th 1,000-point scorer. Lewis II’s 82 “3s” this season are fifth-most in school history. He needs seven to pass both Micah Mason (88 in 2015) and Tony Petrarca (88 in 1990) to move into the No. 3 spot on the list.
• Tydus Verhoeven, the A-10’s leading shot blocker (67, 2.23/g.), has broken the DU freshman record for blocks in a season set by Derrick Alston in 1991 (54). Verhoeven’s 67 blocks already rank 8th on DU’s career list.
• This is the 66th game in a series that dates back to Jan. 11, 1975. Massachusetts leads the series 39-26. In games played at Amherst/Springfield, the Minutemen lead 21-7.
• UMass has won three straight over DU at home, including an 82-74 decision in the last meeting at Mullins Center on Feb. 14, 2015. Eric James (one minute) and Jordan Robinson (10 points and three rebounds in 25 minutes) are the only current roster members who have played at UMass.
• The series had been one of home court advantage until recently, as UMass has won five of the past seven in Pittsburgh, while Duquesne has won two of its past five at Amherst.
• Danny Nee’s Dukes snapped a 16-game series losing streak (dating back to 1991) with a 78-69 win over the Minutemen on February 6, 2002 at the Palumbo Center. Since then, UMass has won 11 and Duquesne eight.
• UMass dropped its sixth in a row at Richmond on Wednesday (90-65) ... the Minutemen, who are 1-11 on the road, are 10-6 (3-5 in conference) at home with an overtime loss to George Mason, a two-point loss to Rhode Island and a four-point setback to VCU ... sophomore guard Luwane Pipkins (21.2 ppg.) is in a three-way battle with Davidson’s Peyton Aldridge (21.4 ppg.) and La Salle’s B.J. Johnson (21.2 ppg.) for the A-10 scoring crown.
• Verhoeven, who entered the game averaging 2.5 ppg. and shooting .444 from the foul line, went 7-of-7 from the field and 7-of-8 from the stripe in posting his second double-digit game of the season (previous was a 12-point outing vs. Robert Morris on Nov. 19). Verhoeven also added three assists, four blocks and two steals in a career-high 34 minutes.
• Duquesne shot a season-best .565, including 7-of-14 from 3-point, against a Saint Louis defense that entered the game second in the A-10 in field goal percentage defense at .419.
• Eric Williams Jr., who went 4-of-6 from the arc, broke the DU freshman record for 3-pointers in a season. Williams Jr.’s 66 “3’s” are three more than the previous record of 63 set by Mike Lewis II last season.
• Williams Jr. (20-11) posted his 11th double-double, tying the DU freshman record for double-doubles in a season set by Bruce Atkins in 1978-79.
• Duquesne’s largest lead was 12 at 28-16 with 4:03 left in the first half ... Saint Louis’s largest lead was three, the last of which came at 60-57 with 3:58 left ... Duquesne led for 31:39 and Saint Louis led for 5:43 ... the game was tied for 2:33 ... there were three ties and five lead changes before Williams Jr.’s 3-pointer gave Duquesne the lead for good with 2:37 left.