Damian Saunders Named A-10 Rookie of the Week

Duquesne freshman Damian Saunders, who had 12 points, five rebounds and four steals in the Dukes' first post-finals game against St. Francis (PA) on Friday, is the Atlantic 10 Conference's Rookie of the Week. This is the Connecticut native's second award from the league this season; the first given after the second week of the 2007-08 season.

Duquesne ended a three-game losing streak with the 99-80 home win over the Loretto, Pa., Northeast Conference school.

Damian Saunders got the Dukes going in the first half of Friday night's game, entering the game for the first time with Kieron Achara's clan at 17:51 and Duquesne trailing the Red Flash, 6-2.

In just under two minutes, Saunders hit a trey and, after stealing the ball from St. Francis's Cale Nelson, took the rock all the way for DU's first dunk of the game, and more importantly, their first lead at 7-6.

His four steals tied his season (and career, naturally) high, first recorded in Duquesne's 86-50 win at Rice in Katy, Texas in mid-Nov.

Saunders, who was a late signee with Duquesne after Marquette released the Notre Dame Prep star from his National Letter of Intent with the Big East school, is averaging 8.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals , 1.4 blocks and 2.1 assists while shooting 55.0 percent from the floor, including 38.5 from 3-point range. Foul shooting, at 53.3 percent (8-15), trails the Dukes' 75.2 percent average.

The 6-foot-7, 205 pounder was an All-Stater at Crosby High School in Waterbury, Conn. in 2005-06 after averaging 22.5 points, 15.8 rebounds and 8.0 blocks.

He averaged 8.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and close to three blocked shots per game for 32-3 Notre Dame Prep (Mass.), last season's national prep school champion.

The Dukes, who are 50th in the early RPI with the 65th best strength of schedule, return to action on Friday, December 28th when they host area-rival Robert Morris (7-4) at 7:00 p.m. Duquesne closes the calendar year on Sunday, Dec. 30th at 5:00 p.m. against a first-year Division I school, South Carolina Upstate (2-10). Both games at the Palumbo Center on the Bluff.

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