OLEAN, N.Y. -- Duquesne coach Jim Ferry has tried to remain upbeat and positive despite the fact that the Dukes are mired in a long losing streak.
For the most part, that has helped his young and small team navigate extremely choppy waters. But even Ferry admitted Saturday after the Dukes lost another tough game down the stretch that frustrations are starting to mount and he is not comforted by moral victories.
That's because the 68-60 loss against St. Bonaventure (10-10, 3-4 Atlantic 10) before a crowd of 4,419 at the Reilly Center was the ninth in a row for the Dukes (7-14, 0-7). It also was the 10th in their past 11 games and seventh in a row on the road.
"I wish I could say that [I was happy with how hard the Dukes played], but it is really hard," Ferry said.
"I mean, we are 0-7 [in the A-10], so it is really hard to be happy about anything. And we're going to play hard, if any of them are not going to play hard, they are going to go home, I mean, that is what the scholarship gets you, and it is what is expected.
"So, if they don't, you won't see them in the games. Right now, it is about growing and learning, and we have been knocking on the door in every game pretty much except for VCU, which is a far superior team to us, so we haven't gotten blown out.
"I do believe that if we keep playing hard, rebound the ball better and do some of the little things that we aren't doing that we will win some games in this league but we have to go do it."
Ferry's frustrations stemmed from many different things, but chief among them was the Dukes' lack of production inside.
He said the team was a "donut" offensively, meaning they were solid on the perimeter with a huge hole in the middle. That's why he used four centers and didn't settle on one until sophomore Derrick Martin, a deep reserve, showed some life while earning the bulk of minutes in the second half.
Of course, illustrating just how bad things are for the Dukes' inside game right now, Martin played 15 minutes and scored two points, grabbed one rebound and blocked two shots.
The other three who played some at center -- junior Martin Abele, sophomore Mamadou Datt and senior Andre Marhold -- combined for two points, three rebounds and no blocks.
So, the four centers combined for four points, four rebounds and two blocks.
That led to other big problems when the Dukes needed easy baskets down the stretch, but, instead, had to continue to rely on 3-pointers.
And, while the Dukes made 11 of 24 3-pointers, that edge was negated because the Bonnies sank 12 of 22.
"That was a case of good shooting, by both teams, really," Ferry said. "But we became like a donut, and, when you are a donut, you are easy to guard. I played four centers, and three of them gave us nothing, absolutely nothing, though I thought Martin did some good things.
"But we have to get some scoring from inside, we are relying way too much on driving and then trying to kick, and, on the road, especially in this league, you can't rely on 3s to win games."
Kadeem Pantophlet, Jeremiah Jones and Sean Johnson led the Dukes with 11 points each while Derrick Colter added 10.
The Bonnies did an excellent job of spreading out their scoring as all five starters scored between eight and 14 points. They were led by Eric Mosley, who had 14, and Joedan Gathers, who scored 13.
Mosley and Gathers combined to make 7 of 10 3-point shots. St. Bonaventure made 12 of 14 free-throw attempts, including four in a row to close the game.
St. Bonaventure led at the half, 39-28, after Gathers hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer. The Bonnies maintained a solid lead most of the second half until the Dukes closed within four at 62-58 and 64-60 with less than three minutes to play.
But Duquesne missed free throws, made turnovers and failed to execute a key blockout on a defensive-rebound situation, and the Bonnies hung on for the win.