Duquesne earns first NCAA Tournament bid in 47 years, beating VCU 57-51 in A-10 championship game

Sun, Mar 17, 2024

Duquesne earns first NCAA Tournament bid in 47 years, beating VCU 57-51 in A-10 championship game

Duquesne earned an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time in 47 years, beating fifth-seeded seeded VCU 57-51 Sunday to win the Atlantic 10 Tournament championship.

The sixth-seeded Dukes (24-11) led by 14 at the half, but bringing home that long-awaited invite to March Madness was a struggle. Duquesne scored only 21 points and shot 5 for 29 from the field in the second half, but the small Catholic school in Pittsburgh will head into the NCAA Tournament with an eight-game winning streak.

Coach Keith Dambrot, who coached LeBron James for two years in high school, and the Dukes matched a program record for victories set in 1953-54, when Dambrot's father, Sid, played for Duquesne.

The last time Duquesne won the A-10 and went to the NCAA Tournament was in 1977, when future NBA All-Star Norm Nixon and the Dukes beat Villanova in the title game.

Joe Bamisile led fifth-seeded VCU (22-13), which was trying to repeat as A-10 tournament champs, with 20 points.

Jimmy Clark III dropped in two free throws with 21 second left to make it a five-point game for Duquesne and Fouysseyni Drame made two more moments later to put the Dukes up 55-48.

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A long 3 from Zeb Jackson with 9.9 left gave VCU a glimmer of hope. The Rams fouled Jakub Necas as the Dukes struggled to inbound the ball, but he missed both shots.

Clark made two more from the line with 1.9 left and finally Duquesne fans could celebrate at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Leading scorer Dae Dae Grant led the Dukes with 10 points, all in the first half, and was named the tournament's most outstanding player.

The Dukes were up 15 early in the second half and the ball was in play when the game had to be stopped because some Duquesne colored red, white and blue - intended for the postgame celebration - fell from a section of the rafters at Barclays Center. Most landed on press row courtside - CBS play-by-play man Kevin Harlan had to pull some off himself and partner Dan Bonner - with a few making it onto the side of the court. The game was delayed about three minutes for clean up.

Maybe it was the premature celebration for Duquesne tempted fate, because the Dukes went more than five minutes after the streamers fell without scoring. They started the second half 1 for 15 from the field

Bamisile made a pull up jumper off a fastbreak with 6:49 remaining to cut the Dukes' lead down to 42-39.

Duquesne finally found some offense to hold off the Rams, and Necas made a 3 from the wing with 4:35 left to push the lead to 49-41.

Jackson made a 3-pointer for the Rams with 2:12 remaining to cut Duquesne's lead to 49-46 and after a forcing a turnover, Bamisile made two free throws to cut it to one with 1:34 left.


VCU will hope for an NIT bid.

Duquesne will head to the NCAA Tournament as the only team from Pittsburgh in the field, but probably won't get to stay home for the first round games being played in their hometown.


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RALPH D. RUSSO Russo has been the national college football writer for The Associated Press for two decades. He is a native New Yorker. twitter mailto "
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