Dukes look for rebound against WVU

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Ovie Soko had just stepped off the court after one of the worst games of his college career, a 4-for-17 shooting performance in Duquesne's 84-81 loss Wednesday to New Hampshire.

"It was a terrible night," Soko said, staring at the box score.

His eyes drifted past the 14 points and eight rebounds and game-high 35 minutes to the two turnovers, three missed 3-pointers and four missed free throws -- all team-highs.

Duquesne coach Jim Ferry will need a major bounce-back performance from the senior forward today, as the Dukes (1-1) travel to Morgantown, W.Va., for an early season matchup with West Virginia (1-1).

Against New Hampshire it was two particular plays -- not a single missed shot or defensive lapse -- that haunted Soko.

Scouting Report
Matchup: West Virginia (1-1) vs. Duquesne (1-1), 4 p.m. today, WVU Coliseum, Morgantown, W.Va.
TV, Radio, Internet: Root Sports, WPGB-FM (104.7), RedZoneMedia.com, WVUSports.com.
Duquesne: Junior G Tra'Vaughn White, leads the Dukes with 19.0 points a game. ... White and sophomore G Derrick Colter (17.5 ppg) have shot 57.8 percent from the field.
West Virginia: Mountaineers lead all-time series 50-37. ... Junior G Juwan Staten averages 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists. ... WVU has shot 41.5 percent from 3-point range.
Hidden stat: Duquesne has outscored its two opponents, 96-67 in the first half and has been outscored, 92-75, in the second half.

The first came at the three-minute mark of the second half, when Soko was whistled for offensive goaltending on a ball that was hanging on the edge of the rim and seemed to be already falling the Dukes' way.

The second was in the final moments of the game, when, with 6.4 seconds on the clock and Duquesne trailing by one point, Soko was inches away from stealing an inbounds pass, but the ball trickled off his fingertips and back out of bounds.

"I think that just sums up the whole night," Soko would say later with an exasperated laugh. "I just don't think anything went my way tonight, to be honest."

It was a maddening finish to a vexing game for Soko, who sat out the entire 2012-13 season after transferring from UAB. He took full blame for the loss, saying, "I just didn't play hard enough, as hard as I need to play to set a good example for the younger guys."

Ferry shifted the focus to all-around accountability.

"If we defended better, we could have won this game with Ovie going 4-of-17," Ferry said. "He's a good player, but he's going to have bad nights."

A year ago the Dukes stormed back from a 15-point second-half deficit to knock off West Virginia, 60-56, at Palumbo Center. Today's game is the 88th iteration of the Duquesne-West Virginia regional battle.

The contest pits a pair of teams trying to get back on track. The Mountaineers dropped an 87-82 decision Tuesday to Virginia Tech.

"You want to win every game," Ferry said. "You always hope you can learn and get better while you're winning games, but you learn more about yourself after losses. I think the kids take more accountability after a loss because it's in your face."

Stephen J. Nesbitt: snesbitt@post-gazette.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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