By HAL McCOY
The Atlantic 10 basketball conference obviously can’t count — there are 14 teams in the Atlantic 10. And just as obviously those close to the conference are terrible prognosticators.
Before the season began, it was predicted that the University of Dayton would finish fifth in the league this year and that Duquesne would finish 14th — dead last.
And going into Saturday’s Dayton-Duquesne game at Palumbo Center, the Dayton’s RPI strength of schedule was listed as eighth toughest in the country and Duquesne’s was 331st out of 351 Division I basketball programs.
But when the snowflakes over Pittsburgh cleared up, Duquesne owned a 70-62 victory over the Flyers in the A10 opener for both teams.
With 4:40 left in the game, the Flyers owned a 61-60 lead but scored one point in the final 280 seconds while the Dukes scored 10.
This is how games slip away.
It began when the Flyers were called for an illegal screen with four minutes left. Duquesne hit two free throws to take a 62-61 lead they never relinquished.
Darrell Davis was forced to play most of the game at point guard because John Crosby missed the game while under concussion protocol and Jalen Crutcher and Trey Landers encountered foul trouble.
After Duquesne’s two free throws, Davis missed a driving layup and missed a three-pointer.
Crutcher missed a driving layup and Duquesne scored with 1:30 left to make it 68-62. Darrell Davis missed another shot and Crutcher had a shot blocked and Duquesne closed it out with two free throws with 22 seconds left.
The Flyers had one more chance but Crutcher missed a three in the final seconds as UD went 1 for 13 from the three-point line in the second half.
The Flyers led most of the first half and owned a 30-22 lead late in half. But in the final few minutes Duquesne went on a 13-2 breakaway to take a 38-34 while UD’s Josh Cunningham sat with two fouls for the final seven minutes of the half.
There was an ugly moment late in the first half, a short skirmish involving UD’s Kostas Antetokounmpo and Duquesne’s Chas Brown.
Kostas, who does a little too much trash-talking, scored on a dunk over Brown and as they started back up the floor Kostas was in Brown’s face doing some extra-curricular chatting, also known as taunting. Brown responded by giving Kostas a huge shove.
A double technical was called and Duquesne hit both free throws and Trey Landers missed both of his technical shots. Neither player was ejected, but Brown sat the rest of the half and Kostas did not play in the second half.
With Crosby out and with Landers, Crutcher and Cunningham foul-plagued, walk-on Joey Gruden played the final few minutes of the first half, the first time in his career he played in a game other than the final minute of a blowout.
Duquesne was led by 6-2 guard Rene Castro-Caneddy, a grad student transfer from Butler. He scored 21 on 7 of 13 shooting, three of six from three-point. Eric Williams scored 15 and Mike Lewis added 12.
Darrell Davis led the Flyers with 19, but was 8 of 19 from the field and three of nine from three. Cunningham was the only other Flyer in double figures with 14 and snagged 13 rebounds, six off the offensive board.
After shooting 50 per cent in the first half (14 of 28), the Flyers made only 29 per cent in the second half on 10 of 35.
After losing to the team picked to finish last in the A-10, UD’s next assignment is Wednesday night in UD Arena against St. Bonaventure, one of two teams (Rhode Island) predicted to win the league title.