Men’s team falls to New Hampshire at home

Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke

Claire Murray | The Duquesne Duke
Claire Murray | The Duquesne Duke

In their second game of the season, the Duquesne men’s basketball team was unable to notch a win at the A.J. Palumbo Center. They fell to the University of New Hampshire Wildcats 84-81 Wednesday night.

The Red and Blue found themselves trailing early in the first half and at one point trailed the Wildcats 15-5. Though it seemed New Hampshire would take control early, the Dukes proved they could regroup. Sophomore guard Derrick Colter and senior forward Ovie Soko rallied the team back into contention with a strong offensive showing.

Colter finished the first half with 11 points, while Soko reached double digits with 10 of his own. With only 7:47 left to go in the first half, junior guard Tra’Vaughn White gave the Dukes their first lead of the night after a layup put the team up 28-27. The Dukes showed balanced play throughout the course of the game. They scored 18 points in the paint in the first half and led 42-38 at intermission.

Soko thought the team made some good shots to get them back into the game, but the way they did it wasn’t the way the team expected.

“It wasn’t anything defensive wise that got us back into the game, we just made some shots,” Soko said. “We’re not going to be able to come out and out score people consistently, so that has to change.”

Colter, who finished with 12 points on the night, agreed that the defense wasn’t on par with coach Jim Ferry’s expectations.

“We just didn’t guard,” Colter said. “Coach told us to play defense and we didn’t guard. They kept making wide open threes and they were a good shooting team and they don’t miss.”

At the start of the second, the Dukes looked to pull away from the Wildcats, but New Hampshire closed in with a three-pointer to knot the game at 54 with less than 13 minutes to play in the second half.

The Wildcats were unable to build a lead of their own near the midway point of the second half, which meant it was time for the Dukes to prove that they can shine in close games like these. Down 73-69 with five minutes to go, sophomore guard Micah Mason came up with some key plays to keep the Dukes within striking distance.

A steal and a late three pointer put the Dukes within one with under two minutes to go. Tra’Vaughn White brought the Palumbo Center to its feet after sinking a layup that gave the Red and Blue a 74-73 lead. The lead was short lived though.

The Wildcats knocked in a layup of their own to retake the lead. After a few fouls, the Dukes found themselves down 84-81 with less than five seconds to go. One last play up the court was all Duquesne had left in the tank.

Colter rushed up court for a pass but was unable to sink a rushed three to tie the game. And with that, the Dukes lost 84-81. Tra’Vaughn White lead the Dukes in scoring with 18 points, while fellow freshman Dominique McKoy chipped in 13.

Ferry believes that the team didn’t get the look they wanted against the New Hampshire team. The Wildcats knocked down 15 3-pointers in the game, and shot 8-12 from beyond the arc in the second half.

“We never guarded the perimeter hard,” Ferry said. “We shortcutted when we knew we weren’t supposed to short cut. We made some big mistakes.”

The Dukes (1-1) look to improve on their mistakes when they head to Morgantown to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers on Sunday at 4 p.m. The game will be televised on ROOT Sports.