Dukes Outlast BYU For First NCAA Tournament Win Since 1969

OMAHA, NEB. – The No. 11 seeded Duquesne University men’s basketball team continued its historic season with a 71-67 win over No. 6 BYU in the First Round of the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship on Thursday afternoon in Omaha. It is the first NCAA Tournament win for the Dukes since 1969.
The 2023-24 Dukes improve to 25-11 on the season with their ninth straight victory, the most wins since a school record 26 in 1954 (26-3). Duquesne’s last NCAA Tournament win came in the East Region consolation game at Maryland’s Cole Field House, 75-72, over St. John’s on March 15, 1969.
Duquesne jumped out in front 9-0, holding the Cougars scoreless through the first media timeout. Dae Dae Grant drained a triple on the first possession of the game sparking the fast start. In the first half, the Dukes shot 48.5% from the floor and held a double digit lead four times. The DU advantage got up to as many as 12 points (33-21) at the 2:51 mark after a 14-1 run answered BYU’s first lead of the game.
The Dukes extended their eight point halftime lead (38-30) to a game-high 14 (46-32) just over three minutes into the second half, but DU had to fend off the Cougars’ comeback effort. BYU chipped away and tied the game at 60 with 1:48 to play. Duquesne responded with five points in a row and held on for the four-point win.
Duquesne went 9-for-10 from the free throw line in the final 88 seconds with attempts from three different players (Jimmy Clark III: 3-4, Jakub Necas: 2-2, and Dae Dae Grant: 4-4).
“I thought we did an unbelievable job of taking their punches and punching back,” said Coach Dambrot. “They wobbled us for sure. We were wobbly-legged. We had a cut under our eye, over our eye, but we just kept fighting back.”
Head coach Keith Dambrot announced his retirement on Monday after seven seasons with the Dukes and 26 years as a head coach, but he’s not done just yet. “They just won’t let me retire, man. I’m trying to retire. We keep winning games, they’ll make me an old man,” said Dambrot in the postgame press conference. The win was Dambrot’s first in four tries at the NCAA Tournament (0-3 at Akron in 2009, ’11, and ’13).
Dae Dae Grant led the way with 19 points, including three triples. Freshman Jakub Necas added a career-high 12 points and six rebounds in a season-high 30 minutes of action. Jimmy Clark III had 11 with four assists and four steals. Fousseyni Drame pulled in a team-high eight rebounds and scored eight points.
The Dukes finished shooting 46% on the day to BYU’s 39%. On the defensive end, DU recorded seven blocks and seven steals.
Duquesne held the lead for 38:50 of the 40 minutes.
“I think the biggest thing is our toughness is on display, and if you’re a tough team, both mentally and physically, you have a chance to win,” said Coach Dambrot. “I think these guys’ toughness over the year has really improved, which has made us a good basketball team.”
Duquesne advances to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday in Omaha and will take on third-seeded Illinois, who defeated Morehead State this afternoon (85-69).
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First appeared on goduquesne.com

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