Duquesne starters Ovie Soko and Micah Mason were halfway to their seats at the postgame news conference Wednesday night when they stopped short, distracted.
Their eyes were on the TV, which showed Pitt holding a three-point lead against Syracuse with a minute left just two miles away at Petersen Events Center.
Not long after, Duquesne coach Jim Ferry was midanswer when Orange guard Tyler Ennis drained the buzzer-beating winning shot to topple the Panthers.
“We actually did come back to, uh …” Ferry said, stopping midsentence. “Oh shoot, did Syracuse just win that game? Ahh man. Wow!”
It was some much-needed excitement after a real clunker at Palumbo Center.
The Dukes (10-13, 2-8 Atlantic 10) trailed start to finish against Richmond and fell, 75-58, for their fourth loss in a row and their 16th defeat in the past 17 meetings against the Spiders (16-8, 6-3).
“We got completely outplayed in this basketball game,” Ferry said. “They shredded us.”
This latest loss was the toughest of all to stomach, Soko said. It just was never close.
Richmond opened the contest with Kendall Anthony, Wayne Sparrow and Deion Taylor knocking down back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers as the Spiders zipped out 9-2, extended that to 17-3 and were never threatened.
Duquesne, meanwhile, opened with back-to-back turnovers and only one basket in the first six minutes.
“They came out really aggressive and they caught us on our heels,” Soko said.
Despite losing leading scorer Cedrick Lindsay for the season to torn meniscus in both knees last week, the short-handed Spiders got at least five points from each of the seven players Richmond coach Chris Mooney sent onto the court.
Spiders guard Anthony led the balanced attack with a game-high 20 points, his third game in a row of 20 or better, and he drilled four of his team’s seven first-half 3-pointers.
“He’s a quick little guy,” Mason said. “Man, he’s a great player, so aggressive. It’s hard to stay in front of him.”
Soko chipped in 21 points and nine rebounds, and Mason added 15 points and six assists, but Duquesne shot just 38 percent from the floor as a team.
After earning a quick 14-point deficit, the Dukes trimmed the Spiders’ lead to seven points midway through the first half before Richmond worked the deficit back to double figures.
Duquesne trailed, 39-27, at halftime and never drew closer than nine points in the second half. Richmond led by as many as 23 points.
“Everyone’s disappointed,” Soko said. “We don’t think we’ve played to our ability, and our record doesn’t reflect the type of team we have.
“It’s a tough conference, everybody knows that, but you’ve got to flip the page quickly. You can’t afford to lick your wounds for too long.”
The Dukes, winless in four Atlantic 10 away games, are back on the road this weekend to face Rhode Island (11-14, 2-8).
Duquesne will host just one more game at Palumbo Center this season, a March 5 tip-off against Massachusetts.
“We can go play this game in a park somewhere — it doesn’t matter,” Ferry said. “No matter what environment or gym you’re playing in, you have to play well.”
Stephen J. Nesbitt: email@example.com, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.
First Published February 12, 2014 9:14 PM