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Duquesne University
Basketball: Home stand Duquesne subdues Temple, 61-54, to end skid

Thursday, January 09, 2003

By Ray Fittipaldo, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

The cheers came cascading down from the end zone seats of the Palumbo Center with 18 seconds remaining. "Go home Temple. Go home Temple."

Elijah Palmer dunks for two of his 20 points in the Dukes' 61-54 win against Temple last night at the Palumbo Center. (Matt Freed, Post-Gazette)

Duquesne fans hadn't been able to say that for eight years, and they rejoiced in being able to serenade the Owls last night as the Dukes downed Temple, 61-54, before 4,608 fans.

It was the team's first victory against Temple since Jan. 25, 1995, snapping an eight-game losing streak.

"It's a very significant win for our program, to beat Temple and to defend our home court in the first conference game at home," Coach Danny Nee said.

Elijah Palmer scored a career-high 20 points to lead the Dukes (7-8, 1-1). He was 8 for 13 from the field and electrified the crowd with four dunks. Freshman point guard Bryant McAllister and senior guard Kevin Forney each added 11. McAllister was 2 for 2 from 3-point range and had five assists and three turnovers.

Palmer is averaging more than 15 points a game after a slow start.

"Elijah played like an animal tonight," junior guard Jimmy Tricco said.

"Palmer was off the Richter scale," Nee said. "He rebounded. He made a big 3-pointer. He played good defense. He blocked shots. He played at a very high level."

Palmer was instrumental in helping the Dukes pull away late in the contest. He scored seven points in the final five minutes, including four in a 10-2 run that broke a 44-44 tie.

Forney scored five points in that stretch, including a 3-pointer with 4:05 remaining after the Owls pulled within two points.

The Dukes, who lead the Atlantic 10 lead in field-goal percentage, made 12 of 23 shots from the field in the second half and committed a season-low 14 turnovers, 10 below their average. Temple (3-9, 1-1) shot 32 percent from the field, 22 percent from 3-point range.

"I thought Duquesne played extremely well," Temple Coach John Chaney said. "They got past making a lot of mistakes. We figured they'd make a lot more than they did. Our guys were soft and didn't apply much pressure.

"They didn't miss too many shots. They did an excellent job. They usually hurry up and make a lot of mistakes, but they didn't tonight. I thought they did a good job of playing together as a team."

The most pleasing part for Nee was the way his team responded late in the game after Temple fought its way back into contention. The Dukes led by nine early in the second half before the Owls came back to tie the score with 6:17 remaining.

The Dukes committed only six turnovers in the second half and were 6 for 6 from the free-throw line in the final minute to preserve the lead.

"Our kids were prepared," Nee said. "When we had to make plays, we made them. We didn't beat ourselves."

Neither team started well. Twelve minutes into the game, Temple was shooting 5 for 20 from the field while the Dukes were 3 for 13. The Owls led, 12-8, at that point.

When the Dukes finally got going, it was with defense and transition offense. They outscored the Owls, 12-2, in the final 4:03 of the first half for a 22-17 lead at the break.

"They had a lot of easy baskets," Chaney said. "They were perhaps more than we've ever allowed in all my years. I've never seen that happen."

McAllister started the run with a 3-pointer. Then he stole the ball and passed to Palmer who slammed home one of his three first-half dunks that tied the score. Ron Dokes scored five of the next seven Duquesne points, including a nice baseline move and dunk for a 22-15 lead with 43 seconds left. Temple's Alex Wesby hit a short jumper with four seconds left to break a four-minute scoring drought for the Owls.

This isn't one of Chaney's best teams and might turn out to be his worst. He is starting three freshmen, and the Owls rank last in the conference in points, field goal percentage, field goal percentage defense and rebounding.

But none of that mattered to the Dukes after the game.

"Anytime you beat a team with that tradition and that quality of players, you feel very fortunate," Nee said.

NOTES -- The Dukes next play Dayton at noon Saturday. ... Tricco has scored in double figures once in the past five games. ... David Hawkins led the Owls with 19 points. ... The departure of 6-10 forward Derek Ahern will not affect the status of forward Jon Pawlak. Nee said he still plans to redshirt Pawlak. Ahern's departure frees up a scholarship this spring. Nee declined to say which position he would recruit, but with Forney and Brad Midgley graduating and incoming freshman forwards Sean McKeon and Kieron Achara set to join the team in August, the Dukes could use another guard. ... Nee said he did not plan on targeting a recruit until after the season ended.


Ray Fittipaldo can be reached at rfittipaldo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1230.

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