No. 11 Seed Duquesne Outlasts No. 6 Seed BYU In NCAA Tournament

Kareem Rozier, #32, and Fousseyni Drame, #34, of the Duquesne Dukes react after defeating the Brigham Young Cougars on March 21 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)

By Homero De la Fuente, CNN

(CNN) — Making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1977, the No. 11 seed Duquesne Dukes have submitted their bid as an early Cinderella candidate after pulling off the upset victory over the No. 6-seeded Brigham Young University Cougars 71-67 on Thursday in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Dukes got off to a strong start, opening the game on a 9-0 run, before closing out the first half with a 38-30 lead. In the second half, led by guard Jaxson Robinson’s 25 points, the Cougars kept it close, tying the game with just under two minutes to go, but came up short in the come-from-behind bid.

Dae Dae Grant led the way for the Dukes, scoring 19 points, while Jimmy Clark III added 11 to power Duquesne to the program’s first victory in the NCAA tournament since 1969. It’s also the first in the tournament for head coach Keith Dambrot.

Dambrot, the former high school head coach of NBA superstar LeBron James, announced he would retire after his team’s run.

“They just don’t want me to retire I guess, I’m trying to get to the promise land and they’re making me keep coaching,” Dambrot said after the game. “But hey, our guys played exactly what they had to do in order to win the game, keep the score down and they’re a load on offense so it was a battle all game long.”

“I thought we did an unbelievable job of taking their punches and punching back. You know, they wobbled us for sure,” Dambrot added. “We were wobbling, legged, we had a cut under our eye, over our eye but we just kept fighting back.”

Dambrot coached James at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio, where in the final two seasons at the helm, St. Vincent-St. Mary were state champions, earning USA Today national rankings.

On Wednesday, the team posted a video of players receiving brand new sneakers gifted to them by the four-time NBA champion.

“AYYYYYYYEEEEE!!! First tournament win in 55 years! @CoachDambrot,” James posted on X after the team’s victory. “@DuqMBB. Keep it going.”

Duquesne will next play No. 3 seed Illinois in the second round on Saturday.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.