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La Salle sends Duquesne home from A-10 Tourney

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Micah Mason had 26 points but ‪‎Duquesne‬ had no answer for La Salle junior guard Jordan Price, who scored 36 to lead the Explorers over the Dukes 88-73 in the opening round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament.

Price added 12 rebounds to notch a double-double and made 13-of-27 shots from the field, including five 3-pointers.

The Dukes finish the season with a 16-16 record, while La Salle moves onto the second round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament against Davidson.

On the season, 45 percent of La Salle’s points have come from 3-pointers and Wednesday night was no exception as the Explorers were efficient from beyond the arc, draining 11-of-22 shots.

The Dukes fell behind early, due in part to 10 first-half turnovers. La Salle opened up a 16-9 lead in the opening six minutes of the half as Duquesne turned the ball over five times in their first 15 possessions. On the other end, three different Explorers hit threes.

"You've got to give all the credit in the world to La Salle," said Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry. "They really came after us. They guarded us well. The way they hold the ball. It's a tough team to come back against once you get down like that."

Duquesne did come back, however.

At the 10:39 mark, a pullup jumper by Derrick Colter from the free throw line gave the Dukes the lead. Derrick Colter and LG Gill each scored five points during the stretch to erase the early deficit.
 
Gill’s strong half continued once Mason fed the cutting forward a bullet pass from the baseline for an easy basket putting Duquesne up 31-27 with just over six minutes to go in the first half.

However, La Salle responded with a 10-0 run highlighted by Price stealing the ball from Colter at the top of the key and sprinting down the court for a reverse layup. 

Late in the half, Price added to the Explorers lead with drive and off-balance layup in between three Duquesne defenders. In the waning seconds, Mason drained a three to make the score 43-38 at the half in favor of La Salle.

The first half was characterized by strong shooting as both teams shot over 45 percent from the field, including over 40 percent from three-point range. Colter, Mason and Gill accounted for 28 of Duquesne’s 31 first half points, while Price and Cleon Roberts accounted for 31 of La Salle’s 43 points.

The game of runs continued as Duquesne began the second half with an 8-0 surge as Mason drilled two threes in transition. Over the next two minutes, La Salle answered with an 11-0 run of their own with Price knocking down three consecutive 3-pointers. The third, a catch and shoot three from the left wing, came off of transition similar to Mason’s beforehand.

With 9:35 remaining in the second half, as the shot clock was winding down, Price passed 30 points on a cross and step back three making the score 66-57 and tying La Salle’s biggest lead.

"When you have a star that has the ability to get 40 in a night, it's always scary," said Ferry. "I thought he came out really highly motivated tonight. He just got in one of those zones."

The Dukes only trailed by eight points following Mar’Qywell Jackson’s three made free throws; however, Duquesne could not put together another big run. 

With under three minutes to go, Colter’s pass was intercepted by Roberts around midcourt for a breakaway layup putting La Salle up 12 points; a deficit which proved to be too large for Duquesne.

Colter finished with 18 points, but only had three assists and eight turnovers. Mason’s 26 points came on 6-10 shooting from 3-point range.

This is the fourth time in the past five years Duquesne has not advanced past the A10 tournament’s first round.

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