Duquesne Clinches NCAA Tournament Berth

Image Credit: Instagram/@duqmbb

By Ray Porter Jr.

The last time that the Duquesne Dukes basketball team made the NCAA Tournament was 1977 when the Atlantic 10 Conference was known as the Eastern 8 Conference when the head coach was future Robert Morris Head Coach Mike Rice, and the household name was future NBA star (and legendary actress/director Debbie Allen’s husband) Norm Nixon. Prior to that, the Dukes had made the Big Dance in 1940, 1952, 1969, 1971.

47 years later, the Dukes are finally going Dancing again after they defeated the Virgina Commonwealth University (VCU) Rams 57-51 in the Atlantic 10 Championship at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.

Kareem Rozier lead a balanced scoring attack with 10 points and Fousseyni lead with 12 rebounds as the Dukes (24-11) went wire-to-wire, leading the Rams from start to finish and led by 14 at Halftime, but although the Rams mounted a strong comeback in the second half, they were only able to get to within a point of the Dukes, who used their defense to hold onto their lead. Joe Bamisile led VCU (22-13), last year’s Atlantic 10 tournament champions, with 20 points.

With the win, the Dukes will enter the NCAA Tournament as an 11th seed and will face the 6th seeded BYU Cougars (23-10) Thursday in Omaha, Nebraska.

Dukes head coach Keith Dambrot already has fame as the NBA’s LeBron James High School coach, now he will be known as the first coach since Rice to lead them back to the NCAA Tournament.

“YESSIRRR!! Punch that 🎟️ to the Big Dance @DuqMBB!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! Love you Coach Dambrot & @CoachDruJoyce🤎🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾” Said James on his Twitter/X Account.

“Super proud of our guys resiliency and toughness,” said head coach Keith Dambrot. “We were in so many games and had so many disappointments early in the year that we learned how to win even when things didn’t go very well for us. We were mature. Unemotional. We got in a rock fight, which is probably good for us rather than a smooth, flowing game. We’re one of the best defensive teams in the league, and if it’s 57-51 that’s good for us. We did a good job defensively the whole tournament, and I think that’s why we won.”

Notes: The Pitt Panthers did not receive good news on Selection Sunday as they were not selected to play in the NCAA Tournament and have also declined to play in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT)

“I am incredibly proud of the performance, development, and fight of our team,” said head coach Jeff Capel. “We ultimately fell short of our goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament, despite ranking favorably in the computers, performing well in conference play with a fourth-place finish and an ACC Tournament Semifinal appearance, and playing our best basketball over the last eight weeks of the season. We made the decision to decline an NIT invitation as a team and with the support of our University leadership. It was a difficult choice, but ultimately what is best for our student-athletes.”

Please email Ray at [email protected]

Follow him @RP2872_Jr on Twitter/X