Down goes Duquesne, Pitt

Mike Lewis II comforts Emile Blackman

Duquesne freshman Mike Lewis II consols senior Emile Blackman, who missed two free throws with nine seconds left in the Dukes’ 72-71 loss to Saint Louis in the Atlantic-10 tournament

Duquesne let a lead slip away in the final seconds, losing to Saint Louis in the A-10 tourney, writes Jerry DiPaola.

Jamel Artis and Mike Young

Pitt’s Jamel Artis and Mike Young ended their careers on a losing note, as the Panthers finished 16-17

Pitt falls to Virginia in ACC second round, by Denis P. Gorman.

Perhaps it was fitting that Duquesne and Pitt ended their seasons on the same night.

Both endured eight-game losing streaks, had a habit of blowing big leads and endured humiliating conference losses — Duquesne by 37 at Dayton and Pitt by 55 to Louisville at Petersen Events Center.

Duquesne defeated Pitt in the City Game for the first time in a long time, and it might have been the loss that made the difference between the Panthers finishing below .500 for the first time since 2000.

Duquesne followed that with the most Duquesne thing possible, losing four nights later to Robert Morris.

Difference is, Pitt started four seniors while Duquesne started four underclassmen. Panthers first-year coach Kevin Stallings has a rebuilding job, with a major roster overhaul expected. Dukes fifth-year coach Jim Ferry, if he can survive the late-season collapse with 14 losses in the final 15 games, has a nice nucleus returning.

The Dukes (10-22) endured a heartbreaking finish, allowing an 18-point lead to slip away in the final seconds of a 72-71 loss to Saint Louis. They lost their final four games by a combined total of eight points, and missed free throws played a big part, and ended in disappointment with the Atlantic-10 tournament at PPG Paints Arena.

The Panthers (16-17) were within three points of Virginia, 46-43, when its center picked up his fourth personal foul on a blocking call that clearly wasn’t. It shouldn’t have been a big break for Pitt. Instead, the Cavaliers pulled away with perimeter shooting. That was the story of the season for Pitt, which had impressive victories over Maryland, Virginia, Syracuse and Florida State, but buckled against Duquesne, Notre Dame, N.C. State and Clemson, which was riding a six-game losing streak.

It became a season of indifference in Pittsburgh, two apathetic basketball programs sandwiched between the successful runs by the Steelers and Penguins. Maybe it’s for the better that it’s over, a final, merciless ending to a season full of them.


Tom Sestito fight

Tom Sestito dropped the gloves early in challenging Winnipeg winger Chris Thorburn to a fight

The Penguins’ offense explodes to bail out goalie Matt Murray in a win at Winnipeg, writes Darrin Bauming.

On the Chipped Ice blog, Jonathan Bombulie writes about hat tricks Evgeni Malkin’s Gordie Howe and a natural one by Nick Bonino.


Polanco DR

Marte and Freese

Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte will play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic

Gregory Polanco and Starling Marte are a big hit for a loaded Dominican Republic team, writes Chris Adamski.

In the Pirates notebook, Rob Biertempfel writes that Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena has an emotional return to Pirate City.

Adamski’s breakdown: Dominican Republic 10, Pirates 6


Game-worn Steelers jersey will be put up for auction by Lelands, writes Joe Rutter.