Bad defense, too many turnovers, and Dionte Christmas are the reasons the Dukes lost to Temple last night. How many open layups did Temple have in the first half? Way too many. How often were the Dukes sloppy with the basketball? Too often, (19 turnovers). How many points to Dionte Christmas drop on Duquesne last night? Too many, (a career high 37.)
The Dukes look like an inferior team in the first half constantly trailing, making mental mistakes, and allowing easy buckets. The only thing that kept the Dukes in the ball game was the fantastic offense play from Reggie Jackson and Kieron Achara. Early in the 2nd half it looked like Temple was going to run away with the game but then all of a sudden the Dukes went on a big run and got back in the game. Kieron Achara had a career game for Duquesne in Shawn James' absence. Achara was 5-6 from beyond the arch, he ended the game with 24 points.
The Dukes kept it close down the stretch run of the game but 2 missed free throws with less than 3 minutes left may have been the clinching point in the game. Duquesne trailed by 2 with Gary Tucker at the line to shoot 2. Tucker missed both of his free throws, Kieron Achara battled for the rebound on the 2nd miss, but lost the ball to a Temple player who he then fouled. The Temple player made both of his free throws to give the Owls a 4 point lead. That 4 point swing was the difference in last night's game.
Gary Tucker has been involved in a collision with Temple's Mark Tyndale in the first half, and every time Tucker touched the ball after that collision the Temple fans chanted obscenities at Tucker. I have never seen a player react so poorly to heckling. From that point in the game on Tucker went into a shell. Tucker ended the game with 1 point, 2 turnovers, on 0-5 shooting from the field, and 1-4 from the free throw line in 21 minutes of playing time.
Lately it seems like a handful of players step up for Duquesne, but the rest of the team doesn't show up. A total team effort is necessary if Duquesne expects to win at Temple. The Dukes lack the defensive energy that they played with when they were playing so well earlier this season.
Kojo Mensah played reluctantly in the first half but he finally got some of his confidence back in the 2nd half. Kojo ended the game with 14 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 5 turnovers. Kojo had been playing without any confidence the last few games and hopefully his strong 2nd half performance against Temple will help him get back on track against St. Louis.
The Dukes have now lost 5 in a row and still have not locked up a spot in the A10 tournament. Duquesne will finish their regular season schedule this Saturday when they host Saint Louis at 4pm. The game will be aired locally on Fox Sports Pittsburgh.