Ricky Johnson, a 5-foot-9 point guard, added a career-high 11 rebounds with nine points for the Wildcats (7-12, 2-2).
Bethune-Cookman, which came in having lost four of its past five games, took a 26-24 halftime lead despite shooting 29.6 percent from the field (8 of27). The Wildcats improved to 44 percent (11 of 25) in the second half, building a 10-point lead with 12:53 left.
South Carolina State climbed back within two, trailing 49-47 with 4:14 left. Mark Mack hit two free throws and Dukes dunked to end the threat. Dukes is now two points shy of 1,000 career points.
Khalif Tombs scored 16 points to lead South Carolina State (4-13, 0-4), which has lost 10 straight games, the previous eight on the road.