Duquesne bows out of Atlantic 10 tournament
NEW YORK — Ovie Soko and Micah Mason were unable to generate much offensively at times, and when Duquesne's top scoring options were neutralized, that meant serious trouble.
And considering the time of year, that meant that the season was over for the Dukes, whose first appearance in the Atlantic 10 Tournament at Brooklyn's Barclays Center ended with a 76-64 loss to Richmond on Thursday night.
Soko, who led the Atlantic 10 in scoring and was named to the conference's third team, finished his college career with 23 points, but most of it came too late as he started 2 of 7 and shot 10 of 21 for the game.
Late in the game, the UAB transfer exited to applause from the Duquesne fans and exchanged a hug with coach Jim Ferry.
“It's just been a good experience, just growing and being a leader on the team and leading a bunch of younger guys,” Soko said. “I've grown tremendously, and tonight we just came up short.”
Mason, the Highlands grad who led the nation by shooting 57 percent from 3-point range, picked up two quick fouls and was held scoreless while taking three shots.
“They switch at every position,” Ferry said. “They switch on every exchange, and they really switched out deep on him, so they didn't really give him any comfort, any looks at the basket. We tried to get him to be aggressive. We tried to get him to drive and kick. You talk about guys screening and roll, but you've really got to credit them defensively for locking in on him.”
Duquesne struggled most of the night and turned in a second half that resembled their 75-58 loss to Richmond a month ago.
The Dukes spent most of the game shooting under 40 percent and only a late surge allowed them finish at 42.2 percent.
They gave up the first nine points of the second half, extending a six-point halftime deficit to 15.
Duquesne were unable to stop Terry Allen, who led Richmond with a career-high 27 points.
The loss also spoiled the homecoming for Ferry, who spent 10 seasons at nearby Long Island University and coached that school to consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances before taking over the Dukes.
“It stinks right now,” Ferry said. “Barclays has been great to us, and it's been great to practice at LIU every day. I'll always be a part of that family. It was great to see everybody, but I wish we could have stayed here a little bit longer.”
Larry Fleisher is a freelance writer.