Duquesne eyes 2nd chances in Atlantic 10 tournament
Duquesne coach Jim Ferry predicts that this Atlantic 10 Championship could be unpredictable.
“Someone could win this tournament that no one is really expecting,” Ferry said, “because everybody is so close, and we've all beaten each other up.”
That would be ideal for No. 10 seed Duquesne (13-16, 5-11), which has a first-round matchup with No. 7 Richmond (18-13, 8-8) on Thursday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Dukes lost to Richmond, 75-58, on Feb. 12 at Palumbo Center, but the Spiders have lost their past four games.
“We have all the ability to compete with any team that's going to be in New York,” senior Ovie Soko said.
Duquesne has improved since its loss to Richmond, with a Feb. 27 win at then-No. 10 Saint Louis as proof. The Dukes traveled to New York having won three of their last six, with winnable, last-minute losses to St. Bonaventure, Dayton and Massachusetts.
“We still have a lot to fight for,” Soko said. “I definitely feel like we're a team that's made strides all year long, especially some of the young guys. At this point, I think we're playing pretty well.”
All 13 conference teams qualified for the A-10 Championship this season. A year ago, the conference took only 12 of 16 teams, and Duquesne was left home.
A year ago, No. 1 seed Saint Louis beat No. 2 VCU in the A-10 final, but that predictability isn't guaranteed.
“Anyone could beat anyone,” Soko said. “You can't really look at how the conference games have gone because a lot of the games have been decided by under five points.”
Richmond was better than Duquesne on Feb. 12. The Dukes fell behind 17-3 and never led. The Spiders made 7 of 8 3-pointers in the first half to lead 39-27 at halftime.
Richmond junior guard Kendall Anthony had four 3-pointers and 20 points. Three teammates also scored in double figures.
“They beat us up,” Soko said. “They beat us to 50-50 balls, and they came out really hot, which compounded that. They just played an all-around really good game.”
Duquesne has a history of trouble with Richmond. The Dukes are 1-16 against the Spiders since they joined the conference in 2001. But this will be their first postseason matchup.
“We're fighting for a championship,” sophomore Micah Mason said. “We think right now that we can play with anybody.”