by Kevin McCaskill Jr.
1/28/23 * 11:15 PM
(AMHERST, MA) - On a bright Saturday afternoon in Hampshire County, UMass hosted Duquesne in an Atlantic 10 Conference matchup, at the Mullins Center. Duquesne went 3-3 in the month of January. They won their last game against Loyola Chicago coming into Saturday’s matchup. UMass beat Richmond on Wednesday at the Mullins Center. The Minutemen were powered by RJ Luis against the Spiders; he scored a career-high 23 points against Richmond. Noah Fernandes missed another game with an ankle injury. Matt Cross also missed Saturday afternoon's game with an "illness".
UMass opened the game with a turnover. Then, they gave up multiple easy baskets to Duquesne which put Duquesne in the lead 12-5. UMass settled into the game and tied the game @ 16.
Both teams traded baskets for the next few minutes. UMass Junior Forward Dyondre Dominguez made two great plays that stretched the lead for the Minutemen. He drained a 3 on the wing and then corralled a Duquesne turnover and turned it into a fast-break dunk that got the crowd to their feet. The Minutemen led 34-27 after Dominguez’ plays. Dominguez is the unquestioned “energy leader” on this team. He will be very important down the stretch for UMass.
The Minutemen led at halftime 39-33. UMass shot 50% from 3-pt range in the first half. Dominguez and TJ Weeks each hit two 3s in the first.
In the second half, UMass controlled the entire 20 minutes. Duquesne made two runs but the closest they could cut the lead was 5. The Minutemen played very good defense in the second. Duquesne had to work for every shot.
Luis made 8 FTs in the final minute of the game to seal the victory for the Minutemen.
UMass beat Duquesne 87-79.
Luis broke his career-high of 23 points on Wednesday, with a 31 point performance on Saturday! He also had 5 rebounds and 2 assists.
Dominguez had a double-double, with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Keon Thompson scored 11 points for the Minutemen.
Dae Dae Grant scored 23 points for Duquesne; Jimmy Clark III scored 21 points.
After the game, Luis and Dominguez spoke with the media. Dominguez, responding to a question about Noah Fernandes and Matt Cross not playing, said,
“Next man up, really; next man up. Gotta come with energy, toughness. Missing them is, of course, a lot. Matt’s like a double-double machine and Noah is a good scorer all-around…when you lose two people like that…you have to step it up a couple of notches higher”.
Luis said, “It feels great to get these two wins back to back, at home wit the fans. They brought the energy. On to the next one”.
HC Frank Martin said, “At the end of the day, there is only one thing that matters: let’s prepare the right way Monday, so we can prepare the right way Tuesday, have no distractions so we can go on the road and figure out a way to play better than we have played since we have gotten in league play”.
The Minutemen travel to Fairfax, Virginia to take on George Mason on Wednesday 2/1/23. The game starts @ 7 PM and can be viewed on ESPN+.