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Duquesne falls on the road at Old Dominion

| Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009

NORFOLK, Va. — On various possessions by their opponents, Old Dominion's players slap the floor in unison, signaling their readiness on defense.

Something must be working for the Monarchs, who lead Division I in scoring defense (53.9 ppg.) and limited Duquesne to roughly that identical average Wednesday night.

Gerald Lee scored 24 points and Old Dominion continually blunted Duquesne's second-half comeback attempts to beat the Dukes, 63-54, at the Ted Constant Convocation Center. It was Duquesne's final nonconference tuneup before opening Atlantic 10 Conference play in a week.

"This was the type of game we expected. It was a war," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said. "This is the type of game we wanted before we get into the A-10."

The Dukes (9-5), who nearly got a triple-double from junior forward Damian Saunders, entertain Richmond on Wednesday night at Palumbo Center to start league play.

"Early in the game, in the first half, they were bumping us around pretty good," Lee said of the Dukes. "We talked about that at halftime. We knew they were going to be a real scrappy bunch and we had to be prepared."

Duquesne led very early and was tied with Old Dominion (9-4) at 23-23 before the Monarchs scored the final five points of the first half to take a 28-23 lead.

Three times, Old Dominion led by 11 points in the second half, only to allow Duquesne to close the gap. The Dukes were only a basket or two from catching the Monarchs time and again.

B.J. Monteiro's jumper at the 10:14 mark pulled Duquesne within 42-39, and a dunk by freshman Sean Johnson, who scored a career-high 17 points, made it 44-41 with 9:14 to go.

Lee's jumper and a 3-point shot by Ben Finney gave Old Dominion a 49-41 lead, though, and Duquesne could get no closer than four points the rest of the way.

The game was far different for Duquesne than its 86-60 home loss to the Monarchs last season, even if the ultimate result was the same.

"We had that game last year up there where everything came up roses," Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor said. "We had to kind of find a way to win tonight."

And the Monarchs did, winning their second game against an A-10 in four tries this season. Old Dominion routed Charlotte and lost close games to Dayton and Richmond.

Saunders finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high nine blocked shots, and Eric Evans and Bill Clark, who played just 20 minutes because of foul trouble, scored 10 points each for Duquesne.

It was Saunders' 11th double-double of the season, the most by a Duquesne player since Derrick Alston produced 12 in 1992-93.

"He's a mobile guy. I just tried the best I could to keep him off the glass," Old Dominion's 6-foot- 8 Keyon Carter said of the 6-7 Saunders. Carter plucked nine rebounds but shot just 2 for 12 and had five points.

Duquesne was playing its 12th consecutive game without injured sophomore Melquan Bolding, a starting guard who scored 25 points in the Dukes' opener against Nicholls State but hasn't played since following wrist surgery.

Bolding has begun light workouts with the team, but Everhart said he is unsure of a return date.

"He's going to need some more rehab, but we're letting him dribble and do some other things. It's really tender there."

Bolding had a screw inserted into his right (shooting) wrist in November and has been wearing a cast for much of the time since.

"We miss him, that's for sure, but we've just had to play on," Saunders said. "I think the effort tonight was there. The veteran guys — guys like me, Billy Clark and Jason Duty — have to control everybody. This is still a learning process for a lot of guys. We've got to get better with the A-10 coming up."

Duquesne, ranked in a tie for 22nd in field-goal defense (37.6), limited Old Dominion to 35.4-percent shooting (23 for 65), including 3 of 16 (18.8) from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the Dukes had their own troubles, hitting just 19 of 59 (32.2 percent), 2 of 18 3-pointers (11.1).

"We had our chances to tie, but we took some bad shots," Everhart said. "It was a tough trip for us. Effort-wise, we played well enough to win. Defensively, we played well enough to win. We just had too many turnovers (20)."

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