Duquesne beats Texas-Pan American to improve to 6-5

| Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, 5:33 p.m.

EDINBURG, Texas — The Duquesne men's basketball team is returning home on a roll after an 88-69 win Sunday at Texas Pan-American gave the Dukes a three-game road winning streak, just the second time that has happened in two years under coach Jim Ferry.

The Dukes (6-5) put together arguably their most complete game of the season at the UTPA Field House. It was just the second game this season that Ferry had his entire team healthy, and the results showed what the future may hold. Duquesne shot 50 percent and assisted on 18 of 34 field goals.

In the three road games, Duquesne shot 54.4 percent, the byproduct of unselfish team play.

“We have a lot of offensive weapons, we've just been injured,” Ferry said. “We're trying to blend together and it's coming together. … We had 27 assists the other night, 18 today. It's an unselfish group.

“What it just comes down to is, will we defend?”

They did against UTPA. The Broncs (4-10), a member of the Western Athletic Conference, had no counter for the Dukes' zone defense. With the score tied 15-15 early in the first half, Duquesne switched to that zone and went on an 18-2 run because of it. The Broncs struggled to muster any kind of shot against the zone and often passed right into a Duquesne player's hands.

UTPA barely had more assists (17) as turnovers (15) and shot 43.5 percent. The 15 UTPA giveaways led to 17 Duquesne points.

“We clammed up and struggled to score,” UTPA coach Dan Hipsher said. “That was the difference in the game. We worked against zone a lot this week, but we're not shooting or passing well. We're not seeing things, we're not making the reads. … We got better in the second half, but we'd already dug that hole.

“We have to be able to execute when the competition is at its toughest and not when you're down 20.”

The Broncs got no closer than nine the rest of the way. UTPA played well in spurts, but not enough against a Duquesne offense that got whatever it wanted whenever it wanted.

Four Dukes scored in double figures, led by senior forward Ovie Soko's 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting.

“We're just trying to improve, trying to be consistent,” Soko said. “We want to be a consistent team and a team that coach knows what he can expect from every game. That's our main focus.”

The Dukes have one more nonconference game Thursday at home against Appalachian State before opening Atlantic 10 play Jan. 8 at home versus Fordham. Five of their next seven games are at home.

Dennis Silva II is a freelance writer.

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