Dukes falter again down the stretch

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There is probably some "Groundhog Day" reference to be made when it comes to the Duquesne Dukes in Atlantic 10 Conference as they seem to play the same way game after game without much changing.

The Dukes play hard, show some signs of life and do some really good things to get into position to win.

Invariably, something always seems to stop working and just when it seems like they were going to get a win, they find a way to lose.

That's the script that the Dukes have followed this year, and Saturday night against St. Bonaventure was no different. They once again failed to make critical plays when it counted and lost to the Bonnies, 78-71, before a crowd of 3,329 at Palumbo Center.

Duquesne coach Jim Ferry again referenced the Dukes' "margin of error being small" after the game and recited a number of times down the stretch they failed to capitalize on opportunities.

Two key plays that helped the Bonnies build a late lead were both offensive rebounds and both led to points -- one on a put-back and the other extended a possession and eventually St. Bonaventure capitalized. St. Bonaventure grabbed 13 of the final 15 rebounds of the game.

Those are the kinds of plays that Duquesne has not made down the stretch all year and that's a big reason why the Dukes (8-19, 1-12) are in last place and will not be heading to the Atlantic 10 tournament.

This was the Dukes' seventh home loss in a row, third loss in a row overall and 14th in their past 15 games. The Dukes have not won a home game since Dec. 19 and are winless in conference games at home.

"I thought we spent a lot of energy coming back and fatigue set in," Ferry said when asked why the Dukes were able to tie the score several times late -- the final one at 59-59 -- but not get over the top. "But those two offensive rebounds [when the game is hanging in the balance], those are like back-breakers for us and like I have often said, our margin of error is slim.

"We have to make those kinds of plays, we have to come up with those rebounds to give ourselves a chance to take a lead. Some of it is a lack of blocking out or not following the flight of the ball, some of it is maybe we aren't quite talented enough to make those plays -- but those plays were definitely a factor of why we lost the game."

Duquesne trailed, 41-35, at the half but did an excellent job of fighting back and tied it at 51-51 -- then again at 53-53, 55-55, 57-57 and then the final time at 59-59.

The common theme in all of that was that every time the Dukes tied the score, it was St. Bonaventure which made the next basket to take a lead. The Dukes had four shots with a chance to take the lead and missed all four.

Dukes forward Quevyn Winters said that had they taken a lead in one of those instances, it may have changed the game.

"We definitely felt like if we hit that shot [when score was tied], it would have changed the momentum of the game," said Winters, who led the Dukes with 18 points, "and we could have built on that shot we hit."

Demitrius Conger and Chris Johnson led St. Bonaventure with 19 points. The Bonnies outrebounded the Dukes, 35-26, and had a big edge in points in the paint, 36-20.

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Paul Zeise: pzeise@post-gazette.com or Twitter: @paulzeise.


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