Duquesne still adding building blocks to basketball program

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Last week, Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said he expected the rematch against St. Bonaventure to play out similarly to the first meeting, a back-and-forth affair punctuated by a winning 3-pointer by Duquesne guard Derrick Colter at the buzzer.

Ferry couldn’t have been more accurate in his forecast. The sequel Wednesday duplicated the original right down to the tied score entering the last minute and Colter missing two free throws in the final 20 seconds to leave the Dukes down by two points.

This time, though, Colter and Duquesne authored no miracle. The Bonnies benefited from a questionable no-call on a travel, hit their free throws late and escaped with a 71-67 victory in Olean, N.Y.

“Obviously, St. Bonaventure and ourselves match up really well with each other,” Ferry said. “It was a great college basketball [game], it’s just disappointing we came out on the wrong end.”

Now, the Dukes (11-14, 3-9 Atlantic 10) will try to regroup when they play host to Dayton (18-8, 6-5) today at Consol Energy Center. It will be their 69th meeting, but the Flyers hold a 46-22 series lead in the series.

After losing five of its first six Atlantic 10 games this season, Dayton has rattled off five victories in a row to return to the middle of the conference standings.

“They’re a team at 18-8 that has an opportunity to make a run at the NCAA tournament, and we’re a program trying to build toward that,” Ferry said. “It’s a big game in general. We need to win a game, get our confidence back, and move up the ladder in the conference.”

To knock off the Flyers, Ferry said, the Dukes must play with more consistency. With four minutes left in the first half Wednesday, Duquesne trailed by just one point. By halftime they faced a 12-point deficit.

“We’ve got to play better for longer stretches,” Ferry said. “We can’t have four-minute lulls, and we certainly can’t afford one against Dayton.”

The Flyers average 74.6 points per game and haven’t allowed more than 70 points in the past six games.

“They’re a high-octane offensive team,” Ferry said. “You’re going to see two similar teams in regards to how they play — very up-tempo.”

The biggest disparity, Ferry said, is depth. The Dukes play eight or nine players; Dayton plays 12. The Flyers have had 11 players score in double digits this season.

“When you combine depth with balanced scoring, that’s a difficult team to guard,” Ferry said. “It’s not like you can focus on taking one kid away. They have multiple guys scoring the ball, and they play fast and aggressively.”

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

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