LORETTO, Pa. -- The game wasn't two seconds old, but Duquesne coach Jim Ferry was already perched on the edge of his seat and yelling for guard Derrick Colter to "Go, go, go!"
It was a clash of contrasting philosophies at DeGol Arena: The Dukes' hyper-tempo transition offense against a more meticulous Saint Francis offense content to sink or swim with its shooters.
In the end -- but not until the very end -- speed won.
Senior forward Ovie Soko had 23 points and 12 rebounds, and Duquesne (4-5) overcame a double-digit halftime deficit to defeat the Red Flash, 78-71, Tuesday night.
"To get this win was huge," Ferry said. "And especially the way we got it. This was a way better win for us than if we would have won by 20. Down 10 at the half, and coming back to win -- I think we learned a little bit about our team."
Saint Francis forward Earl Brown matched Soko punch for punch, leading the Red Flash (2-8) with 21 points and 10 rebounds on 9-of-10 shooting.
"He's a workhorse," Soko said. "He plays every single possession and wears you down."
Duquesne fell behind by as many as 13 points in the first half and trailed, 37-27, at halftime thanks to the Red Flash's red-hot shooting and the Dukes "playing on egg shells offensively," Ferry said. Saint Francis made seven first-half 3-pointers to the Dukes none.
Saint Francis guard Ben Millaud-Meunier scored 12 points in the first half, coming off the bench to hit 4 of 5 3-point attempts. He finished with 18.
Ferry saw a visibly distraught Soko in the locker room after the senior made just 2 of 8 shots in the first half.
"He was really down at halftime, feeling like he'd let everybody down," Ferry said. "Relax. That's why there's two halves."
Soko scored 12 second-half points and finished 10 for 10 from the free-throw line. Soko, a career 61-percent free-throw shooter, is 30 of 34 from the line in the past three games.
Duquesne closed the gap early in the second half and retook the lead, 48-46, when senior guard Jerry Jones drilled a 3-pointer off an in-bounds pass with 11:53 left.
The Dukes' transition offense, all but halted last week in losses against Penn State and Robert Morris, kept Saint Francis on its heels, and, after being outrebounded, 16-15, in the first half, Duquesne held a 20-12 edge in the second.
Soko broke a 69-69 tie with a put-back layup in traffic with 3:28 left to put the Dukes ahead for good. He iced the game with two free throws, and Duquesne finished 22 of 25 from the line.
It was the first road victory this season for Duquesne, which had just two road wins last season.
"If you're ever going to have a program that has success and the ability to win championships and get to the NCAA tournament, you have to be able to win on the road," Ferry said.
"It's difficult; it's not an easy thing to do. Unselfishness travels. Rebounding travels. Defensive disposition travels. Shot-making doesn't always travel."
Stephen J. Nesbitt: email@example.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt. First Published December 17, 2013 8:57 PM