Nov 30, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Duquesne Dukes guard Desmond Ridenour (32) brings the ball up court against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first half at the CONSOL Energy Center. Pittsburgh won 84-67. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Duquesne @ NJIT 71 - 64

The Dukes won in a much more nerve racking fashion than I had hoped for against NJIT in Newark 71-64. Down by as many as ten in the second half, it really didn’t feel like they had it in them to comeback, but they put their foot down at the right time and started chipping away. As their confidence grew, the Highlanders’ sagged and they looked uncomfortable playing at a much faster pace after the Dukes sped it up the final eleven minutes.

The Good

Dec 11, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Duquesne Dukes forward Ovie Soko (top) shoots over Penn State Nittany Lions forward Ross Travis (43) during the second half at the CONSOL Center. Penn State won 68-59. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Good Ovie really showed up last night. He’s really beginning to play like a fifth year senior in my opinion. Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ovie Soko. Ovie may have played his most efficient game as a Duke. He and Dominique McKoy had some issues with interior defense at first but after a slow start, Ovie cruised. He did a lot of his damage from the line but finished very well from the floor hitting 70% of his shots including some tough J’s.

The Bad

Half Court Defense. I could cut an paste ‘The Bad’ from other games here to save time. At one point in the second half, it felt like a good defensive possession if the Dukes got out of their own end yielding a one for two trip to the line. The Dukes often seemed to give up offensive rebounds or foul when in poor position. It felt like they couldn’t buy a bucket for stretches, but at others, I didn’t think they could buy a stop.

The Ugly

Playing the game in the first place. The Dukes get very little for winning last night’s game other than some experience and another tally in the win column. If you look at the computer ranking, the Dukes actually lost twelve RPI positions for winning on the road. Thankfully, St Bonaventure and Penn St pulled wins against ranked opponents to compensate a little bit. A-10 teams have no business in that building.

Further, what business does any school in North Jersey have to call themselves Highlanders?

Turning Point

When Jim Ferry shifted to full court pressure with eleven minutes remaining. While the Dukes didn’t force a ton of turnovers, they disrupted the flow of the game and NJIT couldn’t keep up with the Dukes’ pace. The Dukes gradually flipped the momentum and clawed their way back into it as NJIT started making mistakes with shot selection in the half court and their free throw shooting plummeted.

The Moment I Knew I Was Over

I felt pretty good with Micah Mason heading the FT line and the Dukes up four.

Play of the Game

Desmond Ridenour’s steal and slam.  This came at a key moment in the first when it felt like Duquesne and NJIT were just trading buckets. It had the potential to swing momentum though the Dukes weren’t quite ready for it.

 Player of the Game

Soko. See the good for a description of why. I’m hoping the Dukes don’t need to rely on him for a third of their offensive production the rest of the way.
Shout out to Jeremiah Jones for shutting down high scoring freshman Damon Lynn

Credit Where It’s Due

NJIT is no longer the team that lost fifty – one in a row. They have some young talent. It’s just a shame that they can’t do much with it given their lack of a conference. This could be a tough NEC or Am-East squad in the next couple of years.

Parting Thoughts

I’ll take wins anyway I can get them, but I was a little unsettled for a long while after the game. As the lingering frustration caused by the first five minutes of the second subsided, I realized that the Dukes still found a way to pull up stakes in the shadow of Manhattan with a win even if they didn’t play their best basketball. When you can win while playing poorly against anyone on the road, you should pat yourself on the back.

I also liked how they led a mature comeback. Ovie tried to put the team on his back when down in the first. It didn’t work. When they began the comeback in the second, they did it as a unit. They didn’t rack up the assists but they shared the ball well enough. Better passing set up opportunities to get fouled and easy put back opportunities.

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