Dukes hoping for change of pace against UMBC

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Duquesne returns to Palumbo Center tonight to play University of Maryland Baltimore County with hopes of getting back on the right foot after faltering late Saturday against Pitt in the City Game.

The Dukes (2-3) hold a 2-0 record against the Retrievers (3-5) and recorded a 32-point win in their most recent meeting Nov. 27, 2010.

UMBC’s attack is centered on an aggressive full-court press and trap, an opposite approach from Pitt’s disciplined, half-court man-to-man defense.

“This is a completely different game,” second-year Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said.

They key, he said, will be for the Dukes to break the press while taking care of the ball and limiting turnovers.

“If we get caught up turning the ball over and playing their tempo we could be in trouble,” Ferry said.

Duquesne and UMBC are transition teams that prefer to get out and run.

“I don’t think there are going to be many shot-clock violations in this game,” Ferry said with a laugh. “Both teams play at a pretty hectic pace.”

The Retrievers have committed nearly 27 fouls per game this season, seven more than Duquesne’s average, which means if the Dukes and leading scorer Ovie Soko (18.0 points per game) can counter with a physical offensive approach, they could spend much of the game at the free-throw line.

It was free throws that doomed the Dukes in the City Game. They shot a little better than 50 percent from the line, hitting 18 of 35 attempts.

“It’s always a philosophy and goal of ours to get 25 or more free throws per game, and we’re on track to do that,” Ferry said. “The Pitt game was the first time we really struggled from the foul line.”

After reviewing the tape, Ferry said his primary concern wasn’t even the free throws — sometimes you’re just off — it was that Duquesne failed to rebound its misses to create second-chance opportunities.

“We work on [rebounding misses], and we didn’t do that to a high level against Pitt,” Ferry said. “If we could have gotten one or two of those misses back, it’s a different game.”

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

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