Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke
The Dukes second game at Consol this year ended the same way the first did: with a loss, but this time it was to hands of the Penn State Nittany Lions by a score of 68-59.
The Red and Blue played a shaky first half but was still able to keep it a within reach by the end of the first half. Senior forward Ovie Soko had an outstanding first half with 14 points, but unfortunately not everyone on the team could say the same. Star forward Derrick Colter was held pointless by the Nittany Lion offense and the teams free-throw percentage (which has been a struggling number this season) was held to 58 percent. They would finish the game with only 61 percent. At times it seemed Duquesne was dominating their cross-state opponents but moments later that same group was couldn’t even make a shot. The Dukes headed into the locker room down by nine at the half hopping to regroup.
Soko, who would finish the game with 19 points, thinks the team’s shot choices weren’t up to par.
“Shot selection. We took a lot of bad ones,” Soko said. “Especially at the start of the second half we didn’t shoot as well as we have been.”
Head coach Jim Ferry agrees.
“We just got to make shots. Were a team that is averaging 82 points per game,” said Ferry. “We had trouble defending some games but today we defended but couldn’t make a shot. We got better defensively but I never thought offensively we would play so poorly with this group.”
The second half remained under Penn State’s control for the first 8 minutes until freshman L.G. Gill hit a shot from downtown to spark a rally for his team. The Dukes were able to get back into within 6 points heading into the last ten minutes of play, but that’s the closest the men could keep it. Duquesne struggled in the second half to nail the important shots and Penn State capitalized on the missed opportunities. The men were able to find some success late in the game but it wasn’t good enough as the Nittany Lions were able to hold on. The top scorers if the game for the Dukes were Soko with 19 and Jeremiah Jones with 12. The team finished with a dismal field goal shooting percentage of 27 percent.
Ferry likes playing interstate matchups like this one and thinks they are good for the sport.
“I think its great for college basketball, I think its great for the state,” said Ferry. “I think its great we all continue to play each other.”
Junior forward Dominique McKoy was proud though to see the team fight to the end.
“We fight back,” said McKoy. “We didn’t hang our heads. We didn’t let [the score] affect how hard we are playing. We still thought we could win the game.”
Ferry likes to see the team’s resilience in the face of defeat.
“We have unselfish kids,” said Ferry. “I got on them a little bit in the second half when they put their head down because the shots weren’t going in but after that they responded quickly.”
The Dukes (3-4) will close out their three-game home stand back at the Palumbo Center Saturday as they take on cross-town opponents Robert Morris at 2 p.m.