NEW YORK -- While vastly improved this season, especially toward the end, Duquesne didn't have anymore success against Richmond in the postseason than the Dukes did in the regular season.
Thus the 10th-seeded Dukes saw their tournament hopes end with a 76-64 loss Thursday against seventh-seeded Richmond in an opening Atlantic 10 tournament game for both teams at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Richmond won, 75-58, at Duquesne in the regular season.
After going 8-22 a year ago, the revamped Dukes finished 13-17.
The Spiders (19-13) will face second-seeded VCU tonight in the quarterfinals.
The Dukes trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half, but cut the deficit in half by intermission. Richmond, however, broke open the game by scoring the first nine points of the second half to extend its lead to 41-26.
Forward Ovie Soko's turnaround jumper near the basket with 16:05 left, broke the second-half drought for the Dukes and made it 41-28.
Duquesne would later trail by as many as 21. The Dukes played better late in the game, but didn't get closer than nine points and never recovered from that 9-0 run.
"When you get down on a team like that, it is tough to slowly chip away because they do such a good job of using up clock, and they ran their offense and we just weren't able to get back into it," said Soko, who had 23 points and 13 rebounds.
Duquesne also received 10 points each from Dominique McKoy and L.G. Gill, but Richmond also did an excellent job on sophomore guard Micah Mason, who entered the game leading the NCAA in 3-point field-goal percentage (.570). Mason was held scoreless and was limited to three shots, two from beyond the arc.
"Micah Mason is best the 3-point shooter in the country, and I thought we were very alert to him," Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. "He only had two 3s, and the ones that he did take were contested and hard shots to make."
The Dukes had trouble containing 6-foot-8 sophomore Terry Allen and junior guard Kendall Anthony, who combined for 50 points. Allen entered the game averaging 9.5 points and finished with a career-high 27.
Duquesne was optimistic that this could be a close game because the teams were headed in opposite directions when the regular season wound down.
The Dukes were 3-3 in their final six regular-season games, including a 71-64 victory at A-10 regular-season champion Saint Louis. Richmond had dropped its previous four games.
"Prior to [Thursday night], I thought we were playing some of the best basketball in the league," second-year Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said.
Now the Dukes hope to take the next step with what still is a young team.
The lone senior in the starting lineup was Soko, a third-team all-conference selection who played his final season at Duquesne after transferring from UAB.
"The experience of being able to grind it at the end of the year, make a run, finish 10th in a great league, is an accomplishment for a young group," Ferry said. "We just have to be able to build on that with recruiting classes and maturity and growth."
First Published March 13, 2014 8:48 PM