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Robert Morris holds off Duquesne to snap five-game losing streak

| Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, 4:48 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Duquesne's Ovie Soko (left) and Robert Morris' Jeremiah Worthem square off after rough play during the Colonials' 67-63 win Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013, at Palumbo Center.

Duquesne prefers playing up-tempo. Entering Saturday's game on a five-game losing streak, Robert Morris was determined not to let the Dukes have their way.

Slowing down the game worked to Robert Morris' advantage as the Colonials defeated Duquesne, 67-63, before 2,515 fans at Palumbo Center.

Utilizing the same 2-3 zone that coach Andy Toole unveiled a week earlier against Toledo, Robert Morris (4-7) limited the Dukes to their second-lowest point total of the season.

“Overall, it was able to keep the game at our speed rather than their speed,” Toole said.

Duquesne (3-5) averaged 78.3 points through seven games. Saturday's contest was the Dukes' second consecutive loss, and it marked the third time in four games they scored fewer than 70 points.

“The zone obviously hurt us,” Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said.

Ferry said the zone hurt the Dukes in unexpected ways. While they performed solidly in the halfcourt, converting 35.3 percent of their 3-pointers (6 for 17), the Dukes scored only four fast-break points — their specialty.

For the Dukes, whose opponents are shooting nearly 48 percent from the field this season, their best defense has been a strong offense. That wasn't the case Saturday, as the Dukes played in spurts offensively.

Junior forward Dominique McKoy — the only Duquesne starter to make half of his shots — scored a team-high 16 points. Senior forward Ovie Soko added 15 points before fouling out for the second consecutive game.

“Decisions at the end of the break,” Ferry said. “Guys were forcing it to the rim. We took bad shots and missed.”

Duquesne, meanwhile, shot 46.3 percent overall, including an impressive 50 percent (14 for 28) after halftime.

The Colonials were led by junior guard Charles Oliver, who came off the bench to score all 10 of his points in the second half.

Oliver got hot during a pivotal stretch after Duquesne had pulled within 44-43 on Soko's two free throws with 11:27 remaining. Oliver drilled a pair of 3-pointers while also scoring on a driving layup and a jumper to make it 54-48. Mike McFadden's layup stretched the advantage to 56-48 with 8:12 to play.

“His streak was huge,” Toole said of Oliver. “We were able to create some breathing room down the stretch.”

The Colonials grabbed a quick 17-7 lead behind freshman forward Jeremiah Worthem's nine points, and led by as many as 14 points in the first half.

Duquesne rallied, outscoring Robert Morris, 19-7, over the final nine minutes of the first half. Junior guard Tra'Vaughn White's long 3-pointer before the halftime buzzer capped the run and shifted the momentum to Duquesne.

Robert Morris overwhelmed Duquesne in waves in the second half. The combination of junior guard Karvel Anderson (game-high 17 points) and Worthem (15 points), along with contributions from Oliver and senior guard Anthony Myers-Pate — the pair combined for 18 points in the second half — made the difference in crunch time.

“Great team effort,” Toole said. “Our guys made play after play when they needed to be made.”

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