One of the hardest things for a young team to accomplish is winning on the road; after 19 games that's still one of the few things that evades the Minutemen. Wednesday night was no different for UMass who failed to overcome a season-high 29 turnovers and constant foul trouble at the Palumbo Center.
Duquesne (12-7, 3-2 Atlantic 10) used an 8-0 run with seven minutes remaining to grab a 12-point lead and went on to grab an 80-69 victory over the Minutemen (14-5, 3-2 Atlantic 10).
Sophomore guard Jesse Morgan recorded a team-high 14 points for UMass, but only managed two in the second half. Morgan also committed a team-high eight turnovers for the Minutemen. Sean Carter, the team's lone senior, finished with a double-double (12 points and 14 rebounds) and three blocks in 38 minutes of play.
The team's leading scorer Chaz Williams struggled from the start against the Dukes five guard lineup. Williams finished with a season-low eight points and had four assists and seven turnovers. He even failed to get to the free throw line-despite averaging five trips to the charity stripe normally.
UMass' struggles to control the ball came on a day where they did most everything else right. The Minutemen knocked down 48 percent (30-62) of their shots and held a 48-32 rebounding advantage. Against the extremely undersized Dukes, UMass recorded 42 points in the paint, had a nine-point advantage on second-chance points and even added nine blocks.
Senior swingman B.J. Monteiro finished with a team-high 23 points and junior guard Sean Johnson finished with his first career double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore point guard T.J. McConnell the nation's second leading thief had four steals to go along with his 15 points, six assists and four rebounds.
With McConnell leading the defensive pressure, Duquesne turned the 29 UMass turnovers into 32 points off turnovers. The other key aspect was the foul differential. While UMass had two players foul out (Maxie Esho and Williams) and three others play significantly less minutes because of foul trouble, only one Duquesne player was whistled more than three times. Duquesne turned all of the whistles into 18 made free throws (18-27), the Minutemen only managed nine attempts (4-9).
The first half of the game was played at a frenetic pace that even the referees couldn't keep pace with. UMass jumped out to a 26-25 lead halfway through the session but couldn't overcome their turnovers and foul trouble. Junior forward Terrell Vinson was able to use his size advantage to score six quick points in the first four minutes but sat for much of the rest of the half with two fouls. In the end, Duquesne grabbed a 41-38 lead from Mike Talley with under a minute to play in the half.
UMass came out blazing in the second half with an early 8-0 run to grab a 46-43 lead but it would be the last lead the Minutemen would hold. The Dukes would respond with a 12-4 run to open up the game and the Minutemen would never get closer than four. When the Minutemen eventually cut the deficit to 65-61 with 6:53 to play, Monteiro quickly led an 8-0 over the next 2:21 to put the game away.
Derek Kellogg's squad will be back in action on Saturday when they visit Richmond at 5 p.m. EDT.