This was way different than the last two games where DU broke out to big first half leads over North Carolina Central and Robert Morris but seemed to let down after the break.
Today, while the Dukes hit just 9-of-32 for 28.1 percent in the first half, they made 16-of-25 in the final 20 minutes. The stronger play was also evident in the turnover numbers: nine in the opening period, four in the second.
Rebounding was in the Dukes' favor for the fourth straight contest, the Red and Blue taking a 10-rebound advantage (37/27) on New Year's Eve, including an 18-9 edge on the offensive boards against the much taller and brawnier Mid American Conference team.
Classmate Damian Saunders had 16 points and game-highs of nine rebounds and four blocks. Senior Aaron Jackson scored 15 to go along with a four rebounds, four steals and a game-best nine assists. Freshman Malquan Bolding added 10 points and six rebounds.
Coach Louis Orr's solid zone defense was at least partially responsible for Duquesne's cold start. Nine turnovers didn't help nor did the Falcons' inside presence which led to 60.0 percent of their first half baskets coming in the paint (9/15) -- the result, 55.6 percent shooting. The Dukes had a 21-17 rebounding margin at the break, 12 coming on the offensive end.
Duquesne was up 2-0 BEFORE the opening tip as Jason Duty sank a pair of free throws resulting from a bench technical against Bowling Green for not getting the starting lineup to the scorer's table on time.
Bowling Green gained a 15-14 lead via one of Otis Polk's putbacks with 10:10 left in the opening period. The Falcons maintained the advantage throughout the half, extending it to a high of nine on Nate Miller's final minute jumper, but DU got the final word. Clark set up Saunders for a dunk for the 33-26 halftime score.
The Dukes opened the second period with 5-of-6 shooting, 2/3 on treys, and were 2-for-2 from the line to get back within one, 41-40, 15:28 on the clock.
Bowling Green answered with man-to-man defense. On the second series, Clark rebounded his missed driving layup to put DU up, 42-41. The Dukes extended the edge to 5, then 7, then Clark canned a trey off a Jackson kick-out pass for a 58-49 lead with 7:48 to go.
Jackson's layup made it 11, and Saunders, who had just blocked two point blank shots from forward Erik Marschall, made a reverse layup for a 13-point edge, 62-49. Jackson's jumper made to 15, before a trey from Darryl Clements stopped the 11-0 run with 3:50 left and the score 64-52.
Bowling Green got a hot hand late in the game but couldn't get closer than eight points as Jackson and freshman Eric Evans sank all eight free throws in the final two minutes.
The Falcons were led by Clements's 20 points and five rebounds. Point guard Joe Jakubowski had 12 points and six assists while Polk had 10 points and two blocks. Bowling Green is now 6-6 with all six victories coming at home.
Duquesne begins the Atlantic 10 Conference schedule next Wednesday, January 7, 2009, against Charlotte (5-6) at 7:00 p.m. at the Palumbo Center on the Bluff.