Duquesne hits road to start tough stretch

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Duquense will play five of its next seven games on the road, a stretch that begins tonight in Philadelphia, where the Dukes will face red-hot Saint Joseph’s.

The Hawks have won six of their past seven contests. They bounced back from a four-point loss to No. 19 Massachusetts in the Atlantic 10 opener to beat George Mason, 84-80, Saturday.

“It’s going to be challenging for us,” second-year Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said, “but the teams that are going to be really good in this league are going to be able to win on the road.”

The Dukes’ five-game winning streak ended Sunday with a 75-56 defeat against La Salle at Palumbo Center.

Senior forward Ovie Soko, the team’s leading scorer (18.4 points per game), scored 12 points on 3-of-15 shooting in the loss.

Ferry liked the way the Dukes played the first 15 minutes while accumulating a five-point lead, “but then we just went completely cold.”

They shot just 24 percent in the second half.

“We were up, 26-21, and then it felt like we didn’t score for an eternity,” Ferry said.

“Give credit to La Salle, who did a great job defensively. They were really ticking on all cylinders. Little disappointed that the game got away from us, but they’re a really good team that is starting to play really well.”

Saint Joseph’s might be short-handed tonight, as forwards Ronald Roberts Jr. (back) and Isaiah Miles (concussion) missed the last game and remain questionable, according to Hawks coach Phil Martelli.

Their absence has been eased by the resurgence of senior forward Halil Kanacevic, who has played every minute of the young Atlantic 10 season, notching 19 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists against Massachusetts and 23 points and 7 rebounds against George Mason.

“I think he’s phenomenal,” Ferry said of Kanacevic.

“He’s one of these forwards that can control the basketball game because of his passing ability and the way he sees the floor and keeps everyone involved. And then he’s got that ability to score the ball inside and out.”

Ferry is looking more consistency from his team, and that would surely be helped with a bounce-back game from Soko, the Atlantic 10’s fourth-leading scorer and third-leading rebounder (8.4 rpg).

“Ovie’s done a fantastic job for us,” Ferry said. “[Sunday] wasn’t one of his better nights; he became a little frustrated with himself. But, with his ability to drive the ball, score in the post and shoot threes, defend and rebound, at most times he causes major matchup problems.”

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

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