Men's hoops falls to Duquesne, hosts Manhattan Friday

Senior guard Andre Cornelius made his return to the Patriots' lineup Wednesday night in the Patriot Center with 11 points and three steals, however it came in a 75-64 loss to the Duquesne Dukes (John Powell).

In their first game in 11 days, the Patriots (7-4) came out sluggish and sloppy to open the game and never found their rhythm in the contest, falling to the Duquesne Dukes (7-5) 75-64 Wednesday evening and snapping their 18-game winning streak in the Patriot Center.

The 18-game home winning streak was tied for the longest streak since the Patriot Center was constructed, but they failed yet again to extend it to 19 games.

“Obviously we weren’t ready to play tonight,” head coach Paul Hewitt said.

Senior point guard Andre Cornelius made his first appearance of the season after completing his 10-game suspension to open the season for charges of credit card fraud. He was the first Patriot to come off the bench at the 16-minute mark in the first half.

“It felt good to be back, it felt good to have the fans root for me when I came in the game,” Cornelius said.

Cornelius had a solid game, registering 11 points, three steals and had just one turnover. For the most part, Hewitt chose to play Cornelius off the ball, keeping either Bryon Allen or Corey Edwards in the point guard slot.

“I thought he [Cornelius] played well, you could see his experience helped him coming back from a long layoff like that,” Hewitt said.

Despite Cornelius’ return, the Patriots’ struggles to find offense in half-court sets continued, as the Dukes forced 22 turnovers. The passes were not crisp and ball protection was lacking throughout.

“We made ourselves turn the ball over,” Cornelius said. “We rushed ourselves a little bit, and they dictated what they wanted to do on defense.”

The Patriots found themselves in a big hole, down 40-31 at halftime. Yet, they came out of the locker room for the second half with a new fire and quickly cut the lead to 40-37. But Duquesne responded, opening up a double-digit lead they would never relinquish.

“They were much more aggressive, much more alert, stole the ball 12 times, forced 22 turnovers, beat us in transition, and put us in a hole,” Hewitt said.

Senior forward Ryan Pearson and redshirt sophomore guard Vertrail Vaughns led the way for the Patriots with 13 points each. Vaughns was the only player able to find the bottom of the basket at a high rate, going 5-of-6 from the floor, including 2-of-3 from beyond the arc.

Senior forward Mike Morrison finished the night with just six points including a missed wide-open alley-oop dunk as the Patriots were in the midst of a comeback during the second half. Yet, his effort and intensity throughout the second half was perhaps as high as it has been all year.

“Maybe we were a little rusty,” senior Mike Morrison said. “I don’t think it was the time off at all though; we’ve been doing a lot of practice and stuff. It wasn’t the rust, it was just one of those days.”

The Patriots have a quick turn-around as they return to action Friday, Dec. 23 against non-conference Manhattan, and will look to begin a new home winning streak.

“For this team, so far this year, I think they’ve responded well in these kinds of situations, so we’ll be ready,” Hewitt said.

The Patriots have one more game on Dec. 30 against the College of Charleston before getting into CAA play.

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