This was a tough game to watch. Duquesne was simply outplayed by the Minutemen tonight. Shooting 55% from the free throw line and 34% from the field didn't help either. The Dukes went two platoon 10/40 tonight and it failed. UMass has a deep bench, they can run, and they are big and strong. This is the first time the Dukes have played a team as deep as UMass and depth is the trump card for the two platoon system.
The Dukes shot horribly, they couldn't buy a shot from the field or the foul line. Shawn James did not show up tonight. James was a non-factor in the first half, he simply didn't fight hard enough to get open on offense and he was not a presence on defense for the first time all season. James ended the game with 0 fouls, how can our best defensive player not have any fouls? The answer is he just was not aggressive all night. Shawn James, who entered the game having blocked at least one shot in every game of his career, went without a rejection for the first time in 73 games. The Dukes knew this was a big game and their best player did not show up.
The Dukes who normally play tough defense were clueless around their own hoop tonight. Not only did they allow UMass' top two scorers Gary Forbes and Ricky Harris to score 23 and 21 points respectively but they also left Etienne Brower open all night. Brower went nuts with 21 points, on 8-11 from the field and 5-5 from beyond the arch. Brower was left wide open on each of his 5 three pointers.
For as badly as the Dukes played they would have had a shot if they had only made some free throws. The Dukes shot 55% from the free throw line tonight, they came into the game shooting 72%. You can't win big conference games by shooting 52% from the free throw line.
The Dukes said goodbye to their NCAA Tournament hopes tonight with this loss to UMass.