Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke
The Dukes walked out of Consol Energy Center for the last time this year with their 15th loss of the season as they fell to the Dayton Flyers 57-54 Saturday afternoon in their second-to-last home game of the year.
The Dukes have not been so lucky at Consol this year. They have lost all three games they have played in the arena. Their loss makes them 3-10 in the Atlantic 10 and 11-15 overall.
The Red & Blue came into the matchup following a disappointing loss to St. Bonaventure last Wednesday. Their matchup versus the Flyers was not expected to be any easier. Dayton’s win over the Dukes on Saturday marked their sixth straight. The western Ohio school is one of the hottest teams in the A-10 with a current conference record of 7-5 and an overall record of 19-8.
You would not have known that, however, if you watched the first half of action. The Dukes dominated the Flyers early in the competition, opening with a 17-2 scoring run.
The second half was anything but a mirror image of the first. Duquesne only mustered up 15 points after leading Dayton by 18 at one point. The Dukes tried to make a late comeback attempt with only 18 seconds to go, but could not convert in a game that should never have ended the way it did. This was the third loss in a month the Dukes have lost that was decided with under a minute left.
Head coach Jim Ferry was understandably disappointed with his team’s loss.
“You hold a fantastic offensive scoring team to 57 points and 37 percent and you lose. That’s heartbreaking,” Ferry said. “I really don’t have an answer. I don’t think a team of mine has ever scored 15 points in a half. Ever.”
Senior forward Ovie Soko put some of the blame on himself despite scoring 26 points in the game.
“I had a chance to bring our team back but I didn’t do what seniors are supposed to do,” Soko said. “Those guys made plays. I didn’t. We were missing shots we [were] making in the first half. They just started going the other way.”
Fellow senior and forward, Jerry Jones, saw some bright spots in the first half of his team’s loss.
“Everybody touched the ball and shared it,” Jones said. “That’s why we’re able to get the shots that we did.”
Saturday was also senior day for the Dukes. The team’s only seniors were obviously not happy with the loss, but thought it was nice they were honored.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Jones said. “I’m going to miss playing with these guys. I wish we could have gotten the ‘W’ today, but it was definitely a good day just to be on the court with our jerseys in a frame with [Ovie] right here. It was a good feeling.”
“It was special,” Soko said. “I haven’t been here four years but I mean I don’t regret coming to Duquesne one bit. My teammates have been amazing and the fans are great. It’s a shame we had to end it out on this note, but I am very appreciative of the opportunity to come play here.”
Sophomore guard Micah Mason, who continues to lead the NCAA in three point shooting, finished with eight points.
The Red & Blue head out to St. Louis to face the No. 10 ranked Billikens who are currently on a 19-game winning streak before heading back to Palumbo for their last home matchup of the season. Tip-off is Thursday at 8 p.m.