Duquesne's Sean Johnson looks for an open man while being guarded by Virginia Commonwealth's Briante Weber in an Atlantic 10 game Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.
Duquesne's Derrick Colter drives to the basket against VCU's Darius Theus. Colter paced the Dukes with 15 points.
By Paul Zeise Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The "Havoc" defense of No. 22 VCU was every bit as nasty as advertised Saturday night.
Duquesne's ability to handle that Havoc was not.
The Rams held the Dukes scoreless for more than 11 minutes of the first half in building a 25-point lead and never looked back, sprinting to an easy, 90-63, Atlantic 10 Conference win before a crowd of 6,278 at Consol Energy Center.
After the game, first-year Duquesne coach Jim Ferry didn't mince words describing what happened to his team.
"I don't know what kind of statement you want me to make here, but, simply, they are a far superior basketball team than we are in every aspect of the game," Ferry said. "I think they are better than the 20th-ranked team or whatever they are and, right now, we don't have the pieces or the experience to handle that.
"What we have to do as a program, all of us, coaches and players, is learn from it. We have to experience that in this first year in order to learn what it takes to get to a championship level."
It was the Dukes' sixth loss in a row and their seventh in the past eight games, but Ferry said he won't allow his team to get discouraged because they have focused on each game individually.
"We haven't talked about [the skid], we have basically lost six games one at a time," Ferry said. "I knew what I signed up for when I took this job. We have to rebuild this program and this league is a beast and we have to learn from each game.
"We just have to focus on getting better every game. VCU is better than us and played better than us in this game."
VCU (16-3, 4-0) led, 13-12, with 13:58 to play in the first half, but made a 26-2 run and stretched the lead to 39-14 at the 3:02 mark on a free throw by Rob Brandenberg, who led all scorers with 22.
And while the Dukes (7-11, 0-4) missed some open shots during the run, it was a product of two things -- the Rams' ability to create extra possessions for themselves by forcing turnovers and grabbing offensive rebounds and their ability to knock down 3-pointers.
VCU outrebounded Duquesne, 42-29, and had 20 offensive rebounds to the Dukes' 10. That led to a 24-10 advantage in second-chance points as well as a 36-18 edge in points in the paint.
The Rams also had 10 steals, forced 19 turnovers, made 12 of 31 3-point attempts and were 36 of 72 from the field (50 percent).
Duquesne point guard Derrick Colter, who led the Dukes with 15 points and was one of the few players who battled the Rams with some success, said the trick to playing against a team such as VCU is controlling the tempo.
He said the Rams like to speed the game up to a pace faster than is comfortable for most teams, and they were able to do it to the Dukes.
"They sped the game for us," Colter said. "That's what they want to do, they speed you up, and we didn't follow what coach said about playing at our own speed.
"But their goal is to speed us up, get turnovers and get themselves some easy baskets, and they did -- they did a good job on defense."
Ferry said the style the Rams play is difficult to have success against because they play at a pace not many teams like. Therefore, their opponents do not get a lot of practice at handling that kind of pressure.
And perhaps more importantly, there is no way to get a team completely ready for it in practice because the Rams have so much speed.
"One of the reasons they are so difficult is that you cannot simulate that in practice," Ferry said. "They just come at you in waves, their pressure is immense, and it is designed to take you out of your offense. I probably watched six tapes of them and, while maybe not as bad as [Saturday night], they have done that to everyone they play.
"The difference is, some of those other teams, like Duke, have more talented guys who are capable of making [plays] than we do right now."