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Duquesne skid continues in loss to George Mason

| Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, 4:09 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Duquesne's Ovie Soko dunks over George Mason's Eric Copes on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014, at Palumbo Center.

George Mason reached Palumbo Center winless in the Atlantic 10 and burdened with a nine-game losing streak.

Yet Sherrod Wright scored 23 points, Bryon Allen had 17, and the senior guards helped the last-place Patriots hand Duquesne a 74-68 loss Saturday that stretched the Dukes' streak to three.

It was the first A-10 win for George Mason (8-15, 1-8), a newcomer to the conference that proved tougher than its winless record implied.

But Duquesne (10-12, 2-7) lacked much punch. The team was outrebounded for the third consecutive game (36-30), allowed 28 foul shots and let George Mason shoot 61 percent in the second half. It led to a seventh loss in eight conference games for the Dukes.

“It just never clicked,” said coach Jim Ferry, who shuffled lineup combinations in a failed search of a spark. “It's frustrating because it's too late in the season for that to be happening.”

Duquesne's only lead was one point early in the second half, and that lasted less than a minute.

“We never got in sync as a team, defensively or offensively,” Ferry said.

Ovie Soko had 21 points and eight rebounds but also four turnovers. Micah Mason scored 16 points, and Derrick Colter had 11. Mason, the A-10 leader in 3-point shooting percentage, was 4 of 5 from the arc.

George Mason's Jalen Jenkins had 10 points and six rebounds as all nine Patriots players had at least one rebound. Yet Dominique McKoy, the Dukes' second-leading rebounder, was held without one. Foul trouble limited McKoy, who had two points in 22 minutes and fouled out.

George Mason made 20 of 28 free throws, which included 9 of 13 by Wright. That left the Dukes, who made just 12 of 21, frustrated.

“You have to see how the fouls are being called from game to game because there's really no consistency,” Soko said.

George Mason was winless in the A-10, but just barely. The Patriots had a one-point loss to No. 16 Massachusetts along with overtime losses to Rhode Island and No. 19 Saint Louis. Plus, there were single-digit losses to Saint Joseph's, Fordham and George Washington.

“That team could very well be 7-3 in the league,” Ferry said. “They're a very talented team — more talented than we are at certain positions. But if we could have defended as a group and offensively played together better, we could have won this game.”

Duquesne fell behind 5-0 and trailed until two Soko free throws forced an 18-18 tie six minutes before halftime. George Mason reclaimed the lead with a 7-0 run that included a dunk and free throw by Wright. With 4:56 left, George Mason led 25-18.

The lead was still seven when Colter and Mason made consecutive 3-pointers to finish the first half. George Mason led at halftime 32-31. The Dukes grabbed their first lead 29 seconds after halftime with a jumper by McKoy, but it lasted just 43 seconds.

“We just never got in sync,” Ferry said. “Even when we made that run and we took that one-point lead, it never felt like we were playing together.”

With 7:53 left, a 3-pointer by Mason cut the deficit to 50-46. When George Mason pushed its lead back to seven, Mason hit another. A 3-pointer by Soko made it 55-52 with 6:24 left. But the Dukes moved no closer.

With 3:45 left, George Mason's lead had returned to double figures 63-53.

“You can't put your head down, you can't mope, you can't sulk,” Ferry said. “You've got to stay the same after a win and after a loss. ... Obviously, we have to get better.”

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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