PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Another second-half lead gone _ this time against crosstown rival Pittsburgh _ and Duquesne coach Jim Ferry wondered if his young team was on the verge of an emotional collapse.
“It very easily could have been `Here we go again,”’ Ferry said.
Only it wasn’t. Not with Mike Lewis II, Emile Blackman and Tarin Smith knocking down jumpers. Not with the Dukes holding Pitt star Michael Young in check over the final 20 minutes. Not with the Dukes finally pushing back after spending the last 15 years getting pushed around by the bigger, deeper and more talented Panthers.
Lewis II scored 10 of his 15 points over the final 20 minutes, including five straight during a late game-turning surge to lift Duquesne to a 64-55 upset on Friday night. Emile Blackman led the Dukes (4-5) with 21 points and Tarin Smith added 12 for Duquesne, which beat the Panthers (6-2) for the first time since 2000 in a rivalry that dates back to 1932.
“We were really pumped for this game,” Dukes guard Rene Castro said. “We know the history of it. We know we hadn’t won in a long time. We were glad to change it.”
Young finished with 19 points for Pitt but struggled to get much going with senior forward Jamel Artis watching from the bench in a sweatsuit while serving a one-game suspension for “failing to live up to the standards of a University of Pittsburgh basketball player.” Cam Johnson added 14 points and Chris Jones chipped in 11 but Young made just 1 of 11 shots in the second half and the Panthers made just 3 of 22 3-pointers and none in the second half.
“There was nothing about our play that was good enough to win,” said Pitt’s first-year coach Kevin Stallings.
Three days after throttling Maryland on the road in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, the Panthers looked appeared to be in control after going up by 10 late in the first half. The Dukes, however, responded by getting to within a point at the break and kept rolling. A 3-pointer from the corner by Lewis up Duquesne up 47-38 with 12:35 to go. Pitt responded with a to briefly reclaim the lead on a Ryan Luther lay-up.
The Dukes, who have struggled to close out games at times _ most notably in losses to Canisius and Tennessee-Martin _ didn’t back down this time. Castro and Blackman drilled back-to-back 3s and Duquesne never trailed again then celebrated when the student section stormed the court at PPG Paints Arena.
“I think it’s just really big for our team,” Blackman said. “We really needed this.”
Duquesne: The victory gives Ferry a massive boost at a time he desperately needed it. The Dukes were picked to finish near the bottom of the Atlantic 10 and still have issues but the play of its backcourt should give them a serious uptick in confidence at least in the short term.
Pitt: Young needs help, particularly when Artis is not on the floor. Pitt’s bench managed just two points in all and shot a combined 1 of 8 from the field. “Mike had a bad night and that caused some panic in our team and we didn’t have enough firepower to solve the problem,” Stallings said.
Stallings anointed Artis his team’s “point forward” before the season began and he’s lived up to responsibility for the most part. Artis put up a brilliant 22-point, six-rebound, three-assist performance in the romp over the Terrapins not far from his hometown of Baltimore. Stallings stressed it’s just a one-game penalty for Artis and considering the issues Pitt had moving the ball – getting just nine assists on 20 field goals – they certainly need him.
“Hopefully we won’t have to be without him very much,” Stallings said. “He’s a pretty good player and his numbers speak to that but we have to do as a team what we have to do in order to be successful with whomever is in the game.”
Duquesne: heads a couple blocks from campus to play at PPG Paints Arena again next Tuesday to take on Robert Morris.
Pitt: hosts Buffalo on Wednesday before a trip to New Jersey to face Penn State in the Never Forget Tribute Classic on Dec. 10.
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