Dec 1, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Saint Louis Billikens guard Austin McBroom (2) controls the ball against the Wichita State Shockers during the first half at Chaifetz Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

St Louis @ Duquesne 76-72

It feels odd typing it given my dismal outlook on this one, but the St Louis Billikens stole one on the road tonight at the AJ Palumbo Center 76 – 72. The Dukes had two great opportunities to retake the lead late on a pair of missed lay ups by the big guys Ovie Soko and Dominique McKoy. Unfortunately, they came up short.

The Good

The Offense.  The Dukes were the first team to score more than 70 points and shoot 50% or better against St Louis. The Billikens  haven’t allowed an opponent to score more than sixty points in a month.

If you thought that the Dukes offense looked different, it did. They used a handful of new sets in addition to their double high screen. The Dukes ran the plays with a lot of conviction and shared ball better than they have all year against a good opponent. Credit to the coaching staff. I don’t think St Louis had a clue what to expect.

The Bad

Play with a multiple possession lead. The Dukes may have walked away with this one if not for two brief breakdowns. The first occurred just before intermission. Derrick Colter failed to get the ball over mid court before the shot clock reached twenty five with no pressure from St. Louis and seeing blood in the water, the Billikens cut an eight point lead to one. In the second, the Dukes ran the lead back up to six only to allow an Austin McBroom three and a Jon Manning fastbreak on consecutive possessions.

The Ugly

Late finishing. It didn’t feel like Dominique McKoy could miss today. I won’t peg the loss on him but he missed at the worst time. FT shooting sagged down the stretch as well.

The Moment I Knew I Was Over

Manning making the second FT with 4.3 on the clock. Four point deficit. Game over.

Play of the Game

Austin McBroom’s three pointer with 50 seconds left. Nice play all around making the extra pass to find the open shot.

 Player of the Game

Austin McBroom. He had some big late shot clock baskets and at key times after the Dukes played great defense. He’ll become the next back breaking St Louis point guard in a great tradition of them since Rick  Majerus took over the program. He may not have been the best player, but he was the most important.

Credit Where It’s Due

St Louis are the best team in the A-10. When it comes down to it, I don’t see anyone topping them in Brooklyn. They’re an experienced team with a Sweet Sixteen under their belt and ice in their veins.  Don’t sleep on them in March.

Parting Thoughts

I’m mostly done with moral victories but this one was at least closer than I thought it could be. The Dukes really let it get away and that stings. Still, they may played their best game of the year against the best opponent they’ll face and gave themselves a chance to win. I don’t care who you are, the road is a tough place in the A-10. Just ask UMass.

While this may not have been the best game the Dukes have played under Ferry, it was the best coaching job he has done since he arrived. From the game plan to the final play, I though Ferry coached almost flawlessly. Too bad it still wasn’t enough.

Tags: Duquesne Dukes

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