DAYTON, Ohio -- Duquesne coach Jim Ferry has often invoked the phrase, "margin of error," when discussing the Dukes inability to close out games or even maintain a high level of play within games.
Simply put, he believes the Dukes are not talented enough to overcome, no matter how short, a stretch of poor play, poor execution or defensive breakdowns to have a chance to win in the Atlantic 10 Conference.
And that lack of a margin for error reared its ugly head again for the Dukes Saturday in a 72-56 Atlantic 10 Conference loss to Dayton before a crowd of 12,438 at UD Arena. Their ship sunk because of a tough stretch right before and right after the half.
The Flyers closed the first half on 17-4 run and opened the second half on an 11-2 run, an overwhelming margin until you break it down by possession and realize the Dukes had chances to finish some plays and keep the game close.
The Dukes trailed, 30-24, at the half and had some really good opportunities to score early in the second half but missed two layups, a put-back and a wide open 3-pointer. Dayton countered those empty possessions with baskets on the other end.
"I keep saying it, our margin for error is just so small and it is tough," Ferry said. "We come out after the half, we execute what we are supposed to execute, we have four open layups and we get a wide-open jump shot -- and we miss them all. We don't make one.
"We have to make shots, we're not asking them to make halfcourt shots backwards, we are asking them to make layups, make shots -- and we need to get in the gym more, obviously, and work on shooting.
"But it is frustrating, we are defending well and playing extremely well but not converting, and you can't overcome that. I am tired of us playing hard enough to win and not winning. We have to start making shots."
Ferry's frustration has been obvious in recent games because the Dukes have had opportunities to win and haven't been able to finish.
The result is an eight-game losing streak and a team that is still in search of its first conference win.
Duquesne (7-13, 0-6), which fell to 1-8 on the road this season, actually started well and built a 20-13 lead with 7:48 to play in the first half after a 3-pointer by Quevyn Winters.
But the Dukes missed their next eight shots and turned it over twice over the next seven minutes and that enabled the Flyers (12-7, 2-3) to make a 17-2 run and turn a seven-point deficit into an eight-point lead.
Ferry said that stretch of futility was tough to watch because he has seen a similar stretch in nearly every game this year and it has made winning games difficult, if not impossible.
"These lapses, we just go through those a lot," Ferry said. "We have these scoring droughts that keep popping up and what is frustrating is we got all pretty good shots. I mean, it is like we are executing right up to the point of putting the ball in the basket."
Winters and freshman Jeremiah Jones led the Dukes with 16 points each -- for Jones it was a career high -- and Marvin Binney added a career-high 13 points.
Duquesne was short-handed, however, as junior Jerry Jones was suspended for the game for violation of team rules.
Paul Zeise: email@example.com or Twitter: @paulzeise.