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Dukes push No. 19 St. Louis to the limit in 76-72 loss

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Ovie Soko had 18 points and Dominique McKoy and Micah Mason each added 15, but No. 19 St. Louis scored the final six points and the Billikens survived a scare from Duquesne, beating the Dukes 76-72 at the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.

Duquesne had a chance to snap its three game losing streak and defeat a ranked opponent, but fell short. The Dukes offense was on fire, as they shot 50 percent from the field. Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry boasts his team’s ability to produce a balanced scoring attack and they did that tonight, as three players scored in double figures. The Dukes 72 points were the most allowed by Saint Louis all season.

Jeremiah Jones got the scoring started on the first possession of the game as he scored off of a short jumper, but Saint Louis answered right away as Mike McCall, Jr. drained a 3-pointer. The score remained even for most of the first half, as no team led by more than six. The first half was highlighted by key treys from Micah Mason, who contributed his 5-of-6 from the field effort at key moments throughout the game.

The Dukes trailed by two midway through the opening half, but back-to-back 3-pointers by L.G. Gill and Mason put the Dukes back on top. Another 3-pointer by Mason allowed for Duquesne’s biggest lead of the game at eight points, 34-26. The Dukes entered halftime leading 34-32.

The Dukes not only shot with great precession, they were extremely aggressive. Saint Louis head coach Jim Crew noted Duquesne’s offensive effort.

“They played better offensively than our defense played,” Crew said.

The game remained back and forth throughout the second half, but it was missed layups and free throws that hurt the Dukes in the final minutes.  

Trailing 73-72, a missed jumper by Ovie Soko followed by a missed layup by Dominique McKoy on back-to-back possessions resulted in the Billikens holding the Dukes scoreless over the final 58 seconds. Duquesne drew up a last ditch effort to get the ball to Mason to shoot a 3, hoping to tie the game at 75, but the Billikens’ veteran defense buckled down and the game ended in the favor of Saint Louis.

Soko, who led the Dukes scoring with 18 points, said that the discrepancy between the two teams in the final minutes was the senior leadership.

“Down the stretch those extra years show, and down the stretch they made the plays to their credit,” said Soko.

Saint Louis had five seniors on the floor, all of whom had valuable college basketball experience in the NCAA tournament.

“Once we learn how to win a game like this, we will be able to get over the hump and win these kind of games,” said Ferry.

The Dukes will be back in action on Saturday, January 25 as they host Saint Bonaventure at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

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