Shortly after Duquesne’s last-minute loss against No. 19 Saint Louis Wednesday night, Dukes coach Jim Ferry looked around at a locker room full of solemn faces.
Duquesne had been 50 seconds from toppling the Billikens. The Dukes had been the first team this season to score more than 70 points or shoot 50 percent against Saint Louis, and they had won the rebound battle, too.
But Billikens guard Austin McBroom shattered Duquesne’s upset dreams when he drained a 3-pointer from the wing to steal the lead and the 76-72 victory at the Palumbo Center.
Ferry’s message was this: “We can’t let this game affect our next one. We can’t put our heads down because we had a game we could have won but lost.”
So, with only two days to reboot and recover, the Dukes (8-9, 1-4 Atlantic 10) will play host to St. Bonaventure (12-7, 2-3) tonight.
Despite playing well against superior opponents in the past two games — losses against VCU and Saint Louis — Duquesne is on a four-game losing streak and has slipped below .500.
“This league is brutal,” Ferry said. “You’re gonna have a stretch where you lose a bunch of games in a row. … If you put your head down and mope, you’re not going to win again. If you understand that we’re trying to get better for the tournament, then we’re going to get better and make a run.”
After consecutive single-digit defeats against then-No. 19 Massachusetts, Saint Louis and George Washington, the Bonnies bounced back Wednesday with a 66-51 shellacking of La Salle. Senior guard Charlon Kloof, the team’s second-leading scorer (12.3 points per game), had a game-high 18 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists against the Explorers.
The Bonnies have won their past three games against the Dukes.
It won’t be easy, Ferry admitted, to put the near-upset of Saint Louis in the rearview mirror.
“Being able to win a game like this just puts you over the hump,” Ferry said. “When you’re building a program or re-establishing a program, if you can get a win like this it’s always something that the kids can go back to and draw back on.”
He added that it’s hard to refocus a team on the next opponent so quickly after such a loss.
“We played well enough to win the game, and we didn’t,” Ferry said. “We’re all very disappointed, and we’ve got to recover quickly.”
Senior forward Ovie Soko, the Dukes’ leading scorer with 17.2 points per game, echoed his coach.
“You can’t linger on it too long,” he said.
Stephen J. Nesbitt: email@example.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.