Duquesne lost to the La Salle Explorers at the AJ Palumbo Center 75 – 56 on the twelfth of January on the back of an all around poor shooting performance and a fourteen point beat down in the second half. Heading into the game, many saw it as an opportunity to win against a preseason pick for the top three in the Atlantic 10. Afterwards Duquesne fans were seeing a bubble team in La Salle.
Since Then for the Dukes
The Dukes took their beat down against La Salle and then they went to Philly and took another whopping from St Joe’s. After that, they headed to VCU and rode a strong mistake free, defensive first half performance to a four point lead at the break. Then Havoc happened and they lost by fifteen.
Since those two games, the Dukes have looked much improved. They nearly took down A-10 top dog St Louis at home before beating rival St Bonaventure on a streaking buzzer beater from Derrick Colter. On Wednesday, they surged in the final ten minutes of the game to put away NJIT.
Ovie Soko has played great over the last three games combining seventy – two points. The Dukes have also found their way back to the charity stripe after getting there only twenty – seven times combined against La Salle and St Joe’s. Jim Ferry has also rolled out his full blown half court offense and his team has mostly executed better with the ball.
Since Then for the Explorers
La Salle have had a reverse trajectory following their meeting with Duquesne. They won their next two against Temple, and Rhode Island in Philly before losing on the road by a combined thirty – seven to St Bonaventure and George Washington and by eight at home to VCU. La Salle didn’t do anything to hurt their resume, but the didn’t do anything to help it either.
You don’t need a magnifying glass to see what has changed for the Explorers during their mini slump. They shot the ball poorly on the road against GW and St Bonaventure and they didn’t defend particularly well either. All three opposing teams shot over the Explorers average shooting percentage allowed and La Salle sent their opponents to the line over fifty percent more than they normally do. Jerelle Wright played a combined twenty – three minutes over the losing streak due to foul trouble.
Despite the divergent paths these two teams have taken since their last meeting, I wouldn’t expect the unexpected from the Dukes tomorrow or on Wednesday against George Washington for that matter. The Explorers have generally played much better at home and their post players managed to defend Soko without fouling on the road in the first meeting. I see no reason why they can’t do it again in the second. The only way the Dukes have a chance is if the Explorers’ swoon is more pervasive than just a difficult stretch of schedule. Getting one of their big guys into foul trouble would help the Dukes cause immensely. On top of that, Duquesne will need to knock down their open looks, something they didn’t do a great job of against NJIT.