Playing at PPG Paints Arena has uttered some big moments, both good and bad, for the Dukes this season. Saturday marked the first time they would play as a home team. But by the end, it almost felt like a road game for the school right up the hill.
A sloppy first half marred by turnovers and poor defensive paved the way for a 76-57 wire-to-wire loss to A-10 rival Dayton. A lot of Flyer fans made the four hour drive to Pittsburgh, nearly outnumbering the Duquesne fans. It was the lowest scoring output for the Dukes this season and their second biggest loss of the season. They now sit at 9-9 on the season and 2-3 in conference play.
Coach Ferry was visibly upset with his team’s performance Saturday afternoon.
“I’m extremely upset with all of us, with our team,” Ferry said. “To start a game like this the way we started that’s on us. We had 14 turnovers in the first half. We played slow defensively, tried to do things one-on-one. That is not how we are going to win, that’s not certainly how you’re going to beat a team like Dayton.”
Grad transfer Emile Blackman, who was second on the team in scoring with 14, tried to motivate his team after their 6th turnover early in the first half with words I am not allowed to repeat. Like Ferry, he did not pull any punches when asked about the team’s performance.
“I don’t want to make any excuses we just didn’t come out as hard as we should’ve,” Blackman said. “We just came out and got punched in the mouth and it was hard to respond. No excuses, it’s something we got to fix.”
The 14 first half turnovers were part of a season-high 22. And as any good team will, the Flyers were able to take advantage of the Dukes’ miscues. Dayton scored 27 points including 16 in the first half off Duquesne turnovers. In contrast, the Dukes only scored four points off turnovers for the entire game.
For the Dukes, as Blackman put it, they need to stay under 13 turnovers to have a chance to win.
“Obviously in the game’s we take care of the ball we win,” Blackman said. “Our record is significantly better when we don’t turn it over. Twenty-two turnovers tonight is unacceptable. It’s something we got to work on.”
Despite the turnover trouble, the Dukes were able to cut the Dayton lead down to 6 with 15:49 left thanks to Blackman three. It was one of only two threes they would make in the entire second half. They ended the game a dismal 3-21 from beyond the arch, their worst shooting performance of the season. This isn’t the first time the Dukes have struggled from three at PPG. In their two previous games, they were a combined 13-43.
Though he acknowledged that they need to shoot better, Ferry cited back to the turnovers and rebounding effort to why they lost the game.
“It was the 14 turnovers in the first half and we got beat on 50/50 rebounds,” Ferry said. “Anytime we got a stop we cut it to 9, cut it to 6, cut it to 7 then they get a rebound we got to get and was in our hands. I think it was more of that than the 3-21 shooting. Let’s give Dayton credit they are an excellent defensive team but you got to be able to win that game. You can’t go 3-21 and have 22 turnovers.”
The Dukes will look to regroup Wednesday night when they travel to the nation’s capital to take on George Washington. The Colonials are currently 1-3 in A-10 play and 9-8 overall. They swept the season series against the Dukes last season.