New Orleans, LA - Sophomore guard Kevin Dukes only scored one basket in Saturday's contest between intracity rivals SUNO and Loyola, but it proved to be the biggest basket of the season so far. Dukes hit a fadeaway, falling down jumper from the right wing as the clock wound down to give the Knights (6-1) a dramatic 67-66 win, their fourth in a row.
"I knew to be ready if the opportunity came to me", said Dukes who sat out most of the second half before SUNO's final possession. "We go through these types of situations in practice and we've been in games like this before, so the team was confident and I was confident."
The undermanned and undersized Knights lead by as many as 13 points early in the second half, but the Wolfpack (8-5) began to chip away at that lead by repeatedly getting the ball inside for shots in the paint and by connecting on 18 of their 24 free throws.
"In the first half, offensively and defensively we stayed committed to the game plan", said Head Coach Dale Valdery. "In the second half we didn't seem to have the same movement on offense and defensively we just gave them too many easy baskets. Give them credit, Loyola has a tremendous basketball team, one that have given us fits twice this season. We were fortunate to get out of here with a win."
SUNO struggled shooting the ball in the second half, making only 38 percent of their attempts and shooting just over 40 percent for the game. However, Merlin Walker, who scored all 11 of his points in the first half and Clyde Moore, who had 20 points on a very efficient 8-11 from the field, gave enough of an offensive contribution to give Dukes his opportunity to hit the game-winner.
Robert Lovaglio led the Wolfpack with 23 points including a go-ahead three pointer with less than 30 seconds to play. Cameron Hill had a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. SUNO's victory snapped Loyola's three game win streak.
SUNO will resume play after its winter break on January 5th as it opens conference play on the road against Philander Smith.