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Shorthanded Duquesne drops Atlantic 10 opener to Dayton

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Duquesne played hard and kept it close against Atlantic 10 preseason favorite Dayton despite playing without two starters, but the Dukes’ lost their conference opener--also their first home loss of the season--on Saturday, 66-58.

PITTSBURGH -- “I thought we defended great tonight, which we needed to do obviously being down Micah [Mason] and Jeremiah [Jones],” head coach Jim Ferry said. “We grinded it and gave ourselves a chance to win, and we came up short.”

The Dukes (10-4, 0-1) knew they would be down forward Jones after he suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the Dukes’ last home contest, but senior guard Mason was a gametime decision with an ankle injury before being scratched. Derrick Colter had a team high 14 points, but it came at the cost of eight turnovers and a 2-12 performance from the field.

“They made sure every shot I took was hard,” Colter said. Colter had 25 points in Duquesne’s upset win over Dayton last February.

“We tried to force Derrick into as many 2-point shots as you can,” Dayton head coach Archie Miller said. “We didn’t do a good job of that last year, and today we made him put the ball on the ground a little bit better.”

Without Mason or Jones, the Dukes’ offense had no bite in the first half, especially from three, and they were held to just 20 points at the break. With 7:37 remaining, the Dukes were just 2-20 from the field, but due to Dayton’s own offensive struggles, they were down just three: 14-11. The Dukes would go into the half just 4-26 from the field, but were remarkably still in the game.

Dayton’s (11-2, 1-0) offense started off sloppy, turning the ball over three times in their first four possessions. They would take better control of the ball after that, going into the half with only five turnovers compared to the Dukes’ 11.

Dayton’s problems lied in its instance to continue to attack from behind the arc despite having no success. After missing their first 16 shots from downtown, Darrell Davis hit the first Dayton three with 25 seconds left to make it 25-20 at the half.

“Coach always says ‘Don’t let your offense affect you defense,’” junior center Darius Lewis said. “I think we did a pretty good job playing some defense and making sure that we were still close once we finally got the ball to go in the basket.”

Both offenses finally picked up in the second period, and after a layup from Colter at the 16:13 mark made it 29-28, the Dukes had their first lead in nearly 20 minutes. That would be the last time the Flyers trailed, even though Duquesne kept the deficit to within three after TySean Powell nailed a layup with 9:54 remaining to make it 44-41.

The Flyers were not able to pull away, but the Dukes had several opportunities to make it a one-possession game late, but they could not get the big stop or bucket to do so. A layup by Lewis made it 56-52 Flyers with 2:34 to go, but the teams traded points for the next two minutes, and with just 38 seconds to go, it was 60-56. Guard Kyle Davis, Dayton’s star defender who was playing with four fouls throughout the last few minutes, made four late free-throws and guard Charles Cooke added six of his own to ice the game.

Duquesne ended the game with a 44-39 advantage on the glass. Cooke had a game high 21 points. Lewis ended the night with 12 points and six rebounds, and Jones’ replacement Eric James had seven points and 12 boards.

The Dukes ended with 18 turnovers to Dayton’s 10, and Duquesne technically shot better from three-point range: 2-12 (16.7 percent) to 3-25 (12 percent). The Dukes shot 32.7 percent from the field to Dayton’s 36.5 percent.

The Dukes will travel to Davidson for a game on the sixth at seven p.m.. The Wildcats are the defending Atlantic 10 regular season champions.

1. Dayton scored 18 points off of turnovers. The Dukes had four.

2. The Flyers were 15-17 from the line in the second half after going just 2-5 in the first.

3. The Dukes have lost five of their last six games against the Flyers. They will play in Dayton on Feb 9.

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