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Duquesne's tailspin continues in loss to St. Louis

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Duquesne lost for the fifth time in their last six games after a 62-51 loss Saturday night in St. Louis. Damian Saunders scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Dukes, who slipped to 9-5 in the Atlantic 10 after opening the conference season 8-0.

St. Louis 62 - Duquesne 51
Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis, MO
 
Duquesne's downward spiral following a record-setting 11 game win streak continued Saturday night, as the Dukes turned in a season-worst shooting performance in a 62-51 loss to St. Louis at Chaifetz Arena. Netting just 32.8 percent of their field goal attempts against the Billikens (11-17, 5-9), the Dukes (17-10, 9-5) registered a season low in assists and points scored. Duquesne has lost five of its past six games after drawing AP Poll votes in late January and early February.
 
Leading the nation in turnover margin entering play, the Dukes had just 10 assists, compared to 15 turnovers. Making 19 of 58 baskets, Duquesne set a 2010-2011 low in field goal percentage. The team's previous worst shooting mark was 35.8 percent in losses to Robert Morris and St. Bonaventure. The Dukes' abysmal assist and points totals were worse than when they fell to WVU (11 assists and 61 points, respectively).
 
The Dukes led 21-20 with 5:56 to play in the first half after Bill Clark converted an old-fashioned three-point play, hitting a lay-up and converting one from the line after the Billikens' Rob Loe was whistled for a foul. But St. Louis went on a 9-3 run to take a 29-23 lead into half-time.
 
After the break, Duquesne whittled the Billikens' lead down to a point when Sean Johnson hit one of two free throws at the 11:59 mark. St. Louis' Loe responded with a 3-pointer, though, and the Dukes never mounted a serious threat to the Billikens.
 
Damian Saunders' play was a rare bright spot for Duquesne, as the all-A 10 pick scored 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked four shots. Clark had 11 points and six boards, but he turned the ball over a season-high seven times and made just 1 of 6 3-point attempts. Collectively, Duquesne made 2 of 14 shots (14.3 percent) from deep.
 
B.J. Monteiro added 10 for the Dukes, but the rest of the squad shot bricks. Johnson (1-for-8 shooting), Mike Talley (1-for-5), T.J. McConnell (2-for-9) and Eric Evans (0-for-3) all had nightmarish performances from the field.
 
Freshman Mike McCall led the way for the Billikens, posting a game-high 18 points. Jordair Jett, another rookie, had 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Brian Conklin chipped in 11 while also getting seven rebounds, and Dwayne Evans came close to a double-double with eight points and 10 boards. Overall, the Billikens outrebounded the Dukes by a margin of 43 to 36.
 
Duquesne's loss drops them into a fourth-place tie in the A-10 standings with Rhode Island, who handed the Dukes a 77-76 loss on February 23. The Dukes are one game ahead of George Washington (8-6). The top four teams in conference play enjoy a first-round bye in the A-10 Tournament.
 
RECORDS SET AMID DUKES' MISERY
While the Dukes won't be in a celebratory mood tonight, senior Damian Saunders tied Bruce Atkins (1979-82) and Dick Ricketts (1952-55) for the most career starts in school history, with 111. Fellow senior Bill Clark vaulted into eighth place on Duquesne's all-time scoring list, passing Bryant McAllister (1,546 points from 2003-06).
 
TEAM STATS
FG%:
DUQ 32.8, SLU 45.3
FT%: DUQ 68.8, SLU 52.4
3-PT: DUQ 14.3, SLU 23.1
RBS: DUQ 36, SLU 43

LEADERS
Scoring:
DUQ- Saunders 15; SLU McCall 18
Rebounds: DUQ- Saunders 8; SLU Evans 10
Assists: DUQ- Clark, Johnson, Saunders 3; SLU Jett 4
Blocks: DUQ- Saunders 4; SLU Evans 3
Steals: DUQ- Clark, McConnell 2; SLU Jett 4

NEXT UP
Duquesne limps home to the Palumbo Center for a 7 p.m. game March 2 against the team that started the Dukes' late-season woes. St. Bonaventure bested Duquesne 64-62 on February 2, as Michael Davenport drained a 3-pointer with three seconds remaining to end the Dukes' win streak. The Billikens, winners of three straight, hope their good fortune will continue during a 7 p.m. contest at Dayton on March 2.

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