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Dukes get by St. Louis in play-in round of A10

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Duquesne's trio of Micah Mason, Derrick Colter and Jeremiah Jones combined for 49 points as the Dukes topped St. Louis 61-55 in the play-in round of the Atlantic 10 tournament.

Duquesne needed every one of its tourney record-tying 12 blocks to give the Dukes their first Atlantic 10 Championship tournament win since 2009, beating Saint Louis 61-55.

Duquesne survived 18 turnovers, 13 lead changes and eight ties by stopping the young Billikens’ offense late in the game, holding them to a 30.4 field goal percentage on the night. Junior guard Micah Mason’s 19 points helped carry an offense that went stagnant on multiple occasions.

Both teams struggled to make their shots early, with Saint Louis opening at one for seven and Duquesne one for six. Mason jumpstarted the Dukes’ offense six minutes in with an assist to Colter and then a layup, starting a 12-0 Duquesne run to give them a 14-6 lead with 9:38 left to play in the half.

Saint Louis posted 13 straight points as a response, seven coming courtesy of guard/forward Mike Crawford, who capped off the run with a drive to the basket to make it 19-14 with 5:40 to go.

Duquesne rallied back into the game, and just three minutes later, senior forward Dominique McKoy picked up an offensive rebound and put it back to knot the score at 21. SLU forward Marcus Bartley drained the last bucket of the period: a 3-pointer to give the Billikens a 26-23 lead.

The story of the first half was Saint Louis’ performance shooting and defending the three. Duquesne, despite having one of the best 3-point shooting backcourts in the conference, only made one of its first nine shots from behind the arc, and the Billikens were able to go 6-14.

Mason and Bartley tied for a first-half high of nine points apiece. Duquesne center Darius Lewis matched a career high five blocks in the first half alone, and Saint Louis’ leading scorer, Milik Yarbrough, was dealt a goose egg at the midpoint.

Duquesne made adjustments in the second half for its 3-point attack, nailing the first two shots they took in the opening minute after the break. The two teams would continue to trade punches throughout the first part of the half, and with 10:18 left to go, Mason’s behind the back pass saved the ball from going out of bounce, allowing Colter to hit a 3-pointer to even the score at 42 apiece. Less than 30 seconds later, Colter got a steal and two fast break points to give the Dukes the lead once again.

Duquesne held onto the lead for a while, but starting with 4:24 remaining, the lead changed four times within the next minute. Dukes’ forward Jeremiah Jones nailed two free throws to take advantage of the 13th and final lead change of the night, with the score 56-55.

The Dukes’ defense did not surrender a point in the final 3:44, and a jumper from L.G. Gill gave them breathing room they needed for the win.

Mason’s 19 points were a team and game high, with Jones finishing second with 16. Colter added 14 points, while Crawford’s 16 points off the bench was the most for the Billikens. Lewis’ set a new career high with seven blocks, and the freshman Yarbrough ended the night with two points.

Duquesne will play Thursday night at 9 against George Washington. The two teams split the regular season series, with the home team winning by double digits on both occasions.

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