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Pioneers Win Tight Contest as Billups Gets First Win as Head Coach

Nov. 17, 2016

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE – The University of Denver men’s basketball program made some big defensive stops late to secure head coach Rodney Billups’ first career win on Thursday at San Jose State, 74-69. With the victory, the Pioneers moved back to .500 at 1-1 for the season.

Joe Rosga led all scorers with a game-high 15 points, once again showing his range from deep with three made 3-pointers in the game.

Duke Douglas turned in his best performance in crimson and gold, netting a career-high 12 points, highlighted by two big dunks at key parts of the game.

SJSU raced out to a quick 5-0 start in the opening minutes before Daniel Amigo got DU on the board with a jumper from the right side. San Jose State kept it going into the first media timeout, pushing its lead to six.

The Spartans got off to the good start by forcing Denver into some careless turnovers early and taking advantage on offense.

The second unit of the Pioneers brought them back into this one midway through the opening half, cutting it to a four-point game at 18-14 after some good plays from Jake Pemberton and Abiola Akintola – making his collegiate debut.

A rough shooting stretch plagued DU shortly after, limiting them offensively for several minutes.


 

 

Once again, Denver was able to make it a one-possession game after two free throws from Thomas Neff brought the score to 28-25 SJSU, and gave the sophomore his first points of the evening.

A floater from Rosga gave the Pioneers their first lead of the contest at 31-30, part of an 8-2 run over a 1:47 stretch.

DU held its lead to take a one-point advantage into the half, 38-37.

The key for Denver in the first 20 minutes was the play of the bench, who scored 26 points and sparked a late-half run to give it the lead at the break.

Some solid shot-making late in the half allowed for the Pioneers to finish at 48.3 percent (14-for-29).

Turnovers early in the second half triggered a mini run for San Jose State to start the second, forcing DU to take a quick timeout just 3:27 into the half.

A 3 from Rosga brought Denver to within two at the 14:21 mark, upping the St. Paul, Minn. native’s total to 10.

The sophomore struck again less than three minutes later, tying things up at 52 all after another long-range bomb, his third and final make from beyond the arc.

Both teams traded buckets for the next several possessions before the defense of the Pioneers started to really come to life and take over the game, forcing several stops that allowed for them to take a three-point lead after a beautiful give-and-go exchange with Pemberton and Bradley George.

That play was part of a game-changing 14-6 run for DU, who made crucial defensive stops during the stretch to give it a 68-62 lead with just under five minutes left.

A key layup by Douglas pushed the Denver lead to seven at 70-63, setting a new career high for the senior.

The Spartans, though, battled back with a 6-2 run to bring it to within three at 72-69 after a layup from Terrell Brown.

The Pioneers responded though with several momentum-changing stops on the defensive end of the floor, highlighted by a steal from Douglas with eight seconds remaining to go to lock up the victory. 

First Time for Everything
Coach Billups picked up his first win as a head coach on Thursday. His team did what he has preached since day one when it mattered most: play defense and get rebounds. This kind of grind-it-out win is exactly what DU needed and can build on going forward. 

Up Next
Denver returns back to Magness Arena for a meeting with Utah Valley on Nov. 23. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. MT.

 

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