Duquesne Men: Dukes refrain the same following overtime loss

The refrain was pretty much the same.

The words were slightly different, not word-for-word precisely as they had been in the past, but the meaning was identical.

The press corps which covers the Duquesne men's basketball team had heard this all before -- actually, four times before.

After coach Ron Everhart had just labored through an 84-80 overtime loss on Thursday night against Massachusetts in a game in which his team lost a 16-point second-half lead, he sat down and faced the cameras and microphones.

This was the fourth overtime game in six this season that Duquesne has lost.

The words were similar to that early December night against Pitt when Mellon Arena played host to its final college basketball game and Duquesne, just like Thursday, let a 16-point second-half lead waste away into an eventual loss.

Everhart's tone and terminology also were strikingly comparable to those times this season when his team dropped overtime decisions, in Atlantic 10 Conference play, to Dayton and Saint Louis.

Scouting report

Matchup: Duquesne (12-12, 3-7 Atlantic 10) vs. La Salle (11-12, 3-6), 2 p.m. today, A.J. Palumbo Center

Radio, Internet: KQV-AM (1410); GoDuquesne.com.

Duquesne: Coming off its school-record sixth overtime game of the season, an 84-80 loss on Thursday vs. Massachusetts. ... La Salle hasn't played since last Saturday. ... Damian Saunders, who topped the 1,000-point mark with 15 points against Massachusetts, entered the weekend ranked third nationally in double-doubles with 17.

La Salle: Has won the past three meetings with the Dukes in Pittsburgh, and Duquesne has won the past three at Philadelphia. ... Guard Rodney Green (18.1 ppg) enters as the Atlantic 10 Conference's No. 2 active scorer with 1,776 points. ... Entered the weekend as the conference's second-best 3-point shooting team at 37.1 percent. ... Freshman Aaric Murray, who is 6-10, 245 is averaging 12.8 ppg and 6.9 rpg and has been named conference rookie of the week three times.

Hidden stat: Duquesne's six overtime games this season are two shy of the NCAA record held by three teams. Valparaiso in 1993 was the most recent to play eight.

"I thought our kids played well enough to win," Everhart said Thursday, his head shaking slightly side to side, the loss still yet to fully sink in. "I thought we gave ourselves some opportunities and didn't make plays when we had to."

When this season is complete for Duquesne, and someone writes the retrospective, those words might end up serving as the perfect framework.

It has been, especially in the four overtime losses, a study in missed opportunity for the Dukes (12-12, 3-7), which next play La Salle (11-12, 3-6) at 2 p.m. today at the Palumbo Center.

And in each of the four losses, there has been an easily identifiable feature, moment or span of time that pointed directly to Duquesne's demise.

In that Pitt game, it was simple for the 12,336 huddled into the former Civic Arena to see what happened -- the Panthers went into a zone defense in the second half and Duquesne couldn't mount any semblance of an offense to counter it.

The same Duquesne offensive attack that shot 48 percent in the first half against a man-to-man look, made only 9 of its final 41 shots when Pitt came out in a zone following halftime.

In the Atlantic 10 opener at Dayton Jan. 9, the Dukes had clawed through, been able to withstand a 26-point, 20-rebound performance from Flyers forward Chris Johnson and, seemingly, had the team picked to win the conference right where they wanted them.

With 3.5 seconds remaining, and the Dukes down one point, senior Jason Duty -- who is now the Dukes most accurate free throw shooter in conference play -- stood at the line facing three free throws.

He made just one to tie, missed the final two, the game went to overtime and the Dukes lost, 78-72.

Then came the third overtime game -- this one needing two overtimes -- Jan. 13 at home against Saint Louis.

In that one, simply, no one guarded Kwamain Mitchell after halftime. Mitchell had one basket at halftime; he finished with 19 points. He also lit a spark in which the Billikens scored the first seven points in the second overtime to salt it away.

Something strikingly similar happened Thursday in the fourth overtime loss, instead this time it was Ricky Harris doing for Massachusetts what Mitchell had done earlier for the Billikens.

Harris had seven points and was 3 for 11 from the field at halftime as Duquesne held a 41-29 lead after 20 minutes.

But he heated up, made 7 of 11 shots the rest of the way, finished with 29 points and that, coupled with 60 rebounds by the Minutemen, were the easily discernable components as to why Duquesne lost yet another overtime game.

"We definitely had our chances," Duquesne swingman B.J. Monteiro said just after the Massachusetts loss. "And down the stretch we couldn't execute some of the plays coach drew up."

Now what?

"We just got to get ready for La Salle," point guard Eric Evans said.

For Duquesne's sake, and maybe most of all Everhart's sanity, they could do without another game going into overtime.

Colin Dunlap: cdunlap@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1459. First Published February 14, 2010 5:00 AM


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