The Pioneers (7-5) played the struggling University Arkansas Pine Bluff (1-12) Lions and handily raced past UAPB behind Daniel Amigo’s 19 points and 8 rebounds and sharp-shooting by Thomas Neff (18 points). Denver jumped out to a double digit lead in the first half and the Lions could never pull Denver’s lead under 11 points in the second half.
The good news from the game was that DU did not play down to the level of the opposition and Daniel Amigo only had two fouls – so the team benefited from his interior play the entire game. Denver also enjoyed the advantage on the boards – 32 to 26. The Lions committed 25 personal fouls to Denver’s 11. Those stats accounted for the final 22 point margin enjoyed by DU.
In the first half, a Thomas Neff 3-point shot at 18:22 gave Denver a 3-2 lead that the Pioneers would never relinquish. A host of free throws and field goals – capped by a Thomas Neff three point shot eight minutes into the game gave DU a commanding 15-4 lead. With 9 minutes left in the half, Duke Douglas canned a pair of three throws to hold Denver’s advantage to 20-9. At 7:46, a 3-point shot from the Lions JoeRandle Tolliver closed the lead to 5, 20-15 Denver. Denver responded with a run. At 5:19, a layup from C.J. Bobbitt extended Denver’s lead to 24-16. A 3-pointer by Thomas Neff and a pair of free throws from Neff and Jake Pemberton was followed by another 3-pointer by Pemberton to extended the Pioneer lead to 34-21 at half.
In the first five minutes of the second half, Denver forced several turnovers and created Lion fouls. A Joe Rosga steal and lay-up seemed to take the steam out of the visitors as the Pioneers moved to a 16 point lead, 43-27. At the mid-point of the period, the teams traded points with Denver comfortably holding on to the lead, 52-38. At the 5-minute mark, Denver maintained a 14 point margin and began to substitute more freely. In the final minutes, the Pioneers were able to empty the bench and play Luke Neff, Jacob Lunsford, Ade Murkey, Josiah Dunn, and Emil Knighton while the rest of the starters and regulars cheered them on. Freshman Ade Murkey made back-to-back assists to senior walk-on Josiah Dunn that led to a pair of layups that sent the DU bench to their feet. Those two layups were the final 4 points of the game, ending 74-52 Pioneers. Those were Josiah’s first points as a Pioneer.
According to Billups, “We were prepared for 40 minutes of zone. There is so much room for growth. I am disappointed with how we responded to early success (with the early lead). We still have some growing up to do. When we have them down we need to keep them down.”