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Duquesne men pull away in second half to beat Albany 70-59

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

With a 10-day layoff ahead, Duquesne feels rather thankful.

Ovie Soko had 23 points and 13 rebounds, and the Dukes held Albany without a field goal for the final five minutes of a 70-59 nonconference victory Wednesday night at Palumbo Center that highlighted Duquesne's inconsistent defense.

Albany led 57-56 with 5:28 left when Peter Hooley scored two of his team-high 21 points. But the Great Danes missed their final nine shots as the Dukes rekindled a defensive intensity that had disappeared after halftime.

“We've still got a long way to go,” Soko said. “It's kind of a good thing we have some time off now from games, so we can really tighten (the defense) up.”

A five-point run by Soko, which included a 3-pointer with 3:24 left, gave Duquesne a 63-58 lead it never lost. Tra'Vaughn White scored 15 points for the Dukes (2-2), and Jeremiah Jones scored 10.

The late-game defensive stops were a confidence boost for a team striving to solidify its defense. So, too, was nearly the entire first half, when Albany committed 13 turnovers. But a rough second-half start was troublesome for the Dukes, who led 30-16 at halftime.

“We'll get 10 crazy days of defense,” said Duquesne coach Jim Ferry, whose team won't play again until Nov. 30 against Pitt.

Albany (2-2) endured an awful first half. The Great Danes made just 5 of 20 shots. Hooley was 4 of 6 for 10 points, but his teammates were just 1 for 14 in the first half. The 16 points were the fewest allowed in a half by Duquesne in Ferry's two seasons.

That was a welcomed effort by the Dukes, who allowed 49 first-half points three days earlier against West Virginia. But Albany started the second half by making eight straight shots and 12 of its first 13.

“They did the same thing against Sienna and NJIT,” Ferry said. “They were down in both those games (and won). I knew they were a second-half team.”

With 12:28 left, Albany claimed its first lead at 44-43 on a layup by Luke Devlin. The lead changed 10 times and was tied five others.

“The lead evaporated within minutes,” Soko said, “so we've still got a lot of work to do.”

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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