Dukes hold on against Albany to reach .500

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Claire Murray | The Duquesne Duke

Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke

The Duquesne men’s basketball team rebounded from their loss at West Virginia and brought their team back to .500 Wednesday night after securing a strong win over the University of Albany 70-59 at the Palumbo Center.

The Red and Blue came out playing well against the Great Danes. The defense allowed only 16 points in the first half. The offensive side of the team showed strong inside play, which they have been focusing on all year, and outscored Albany 18-8 from the paint in the first half.

The hottest player for the Dukes on the court was senior forward Ovie Soko, who scored the first nine points of the game and finished with 13 by the end of the first 20 minutes. Soko also notched his first double-double of the season. He would go on to finish with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Heading into the locker room at the half, Duquesne lead Albany 30 to 16.

Duquesne coach Jim Ferry was very impressed with Soko’s play.

“I thought he played pretty close to a perfect game,” Ferry said. “Ovie’s a really competitive kid. He works so hard in the offseason expanding his game as he did last year when he sat out.”

With the second half underway, the Dukes found themselves facing a Great Dane team that wasn’t about to roll over. Duquesne’s defense seemed as if it lost its poise from the first half after Albany out scored the Dukes in the first five minutes 16-7 to bring the game back within a very reasonable reach.

Pittsburgh native Micah Mason made his presence known with an early three. This is Mason’s first year as a Duke after transferring from Drake University in the offseason.

Albany took their first lead since early in the first with 12 minutes remaining to bring the score to 44-45. Senior forward Jeremiah Jones brought the score back to even with a hard dunk, which gave him his seventh point of the night.

Soko continued his dominating performance and extended the Dukes lead to 5 with less than 4 minutes to go. The Red and Blue would eventually go on to finish the job and kept the Great Danes from making a 2-point bucket in the last 5 minutes of play.

Even after the strong finish, junior guard Tra’Vaughn White said that the Dukes could have been better on the defensive side of the ball.

“I think we kind of came out flat defensively.” White said. “I think it was just our energy.”

Soko agreed.

“The lead evaporated within minutes,” Soko said. “We still have a lot of work to do. We have some time off now from games so we can really tighten up.”

Ferry doesn’t believe the offensive side of the ball is going to be an issue this year but locking in defensively is the message he wants to get across to his players.

“You hold a team to 16 points in the first half and then they come out and score 18 points in the first for minutes after the media timeout, it is a little concerning,” Ferry said. “I thought what was nice about this game was that we responded.”

Duquesne will look to extend their winnig ways Nov. 30 when they take on crosstown rivals Pitt in the annual city game at Consol Energy Center. Tip-off is at 1 p.m. and Duquesne will be hosting a tailgate in Towers before.