Duquesne stretches win streak to 4 with victory over Appalachian State

Chris Harlan
| Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, 9:12 p.m.

Ready or not, the Atlantic 10 season starts next week. After this win, Duquesne feels a little more ready.

Ovie Soko topped 20 points in his fourth consecutive game and the Dukes won their fourth straight with a 79-55 nonconference victory over Appalachian State on Thursday night at Palumbo Center.

The streak, which started with three road wins, is the first four-game winning streak under second-year coach Jim Ferry. It's also the team's longest since 2010-11, when it won 11 straight.

Soko, who made 7 of 15 shots and 8 of 11 free throws, had 22 points. The senior had 23 points at St. Francis (Pa.), 22 at UMass Lowell and 21 at Texas Pan-American.

“We've just got an edge about us,” Soko said. “It's good to win four in a row, but we just know we have to stay on our toes and keep getting better.”

With a first-half team effort Ferry called the “most complete” in his tenure, the Dukes led 49-24 at halftime and by at least 19 points throughout the second half. The 55 points allowed were the fewest by the Dukes this season.

Appalachian State (4-9) was outrebounded 52-33.

“Any time you can put together four games in a row where you actually play well and you win, it builds confidence in the kids,” Ferry said. “I think it's the best basketball we've played this year.”

The improvement comes at an opportune time. The Dukes open their A-10 schedule Wednesday night at home against Fordham. But the team entered A-10 play in a similar position last season, with seven wins, but went 1-15 in conference.

“None of these teams have been Atlantic 10 teams, so our focus is still about getting better defensively (and) getting more cohesive,” Ferry said, “because the real deal starts on Wednesday night. It's a heck of a league, and we know we have a long way to go.”

The Dukes (7-5) have one nonleague game left, Jan. 28 at New Jersey Institute of Technology.

Led by guard Tra'Vaughn White with 14 points, Duquesne's bench outscored Appalachian State's reserves 32-7. With all 11 scholarship players healthy for just the third time, the Dukes made lineup changes in multiple-player waves.

“That's the way we've been trying to play all year,” Ferry said. “We just never had our pieces.”

Tab Hamilton had 18 points for Appalachian State, which sunk to 0-7 on the road. Mountaineers junior Jay Canty had 12 points in his season debut. The 6-foot-6 forward had been academically ineligible.

Dominique McKoy added 10 points for the Dukes, who made 29 of 62 field goals and had 22 assists. Their 46.8 percent average continued their stretch of good shooting nights. The team had shot better than 50 percent in its three previous games.

Micah Mason had nine points on three 3-pointers.

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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