Dukes caught in Spiders web

Photo by Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Photo by Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Richmond begins second half on 9-0 run, eliminates Duquesne from tournament

By: Joe Manganiello

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Terry Allen scored 16 after the break as Richmond’s Spiders held on to defeat the Duquesne Dukes, 76-64, in first round action of the Atlantic 10 Tournament at the Barclays Center Thursday night.

Richmond used the three-ball to take an early lead, and used a 9-0 run to open the second half to defeat Duquesne.

Allen led the way for the Spiders, scoring 13 points and grabbing all seven of his rebounds in the first half. The 6-foot-8 forward finished with 27 points, and added three assists.

“I think Terry is going to be a great player,” head coach Chris Mooney said. “Sometimes he makes things look so easy, but you think that when he has 15 points, he could have 25 – when he has eight rebounds, you think he can have 15. I think that he’s playing with confidence right now. I think he knows how important he is to us, and the different things that he can do on the floor are really, really impressive for a guy his size.”

Second-team all-conference selection Kendall Anthony did not fail to impress the Brooklyn crowd. Despite missing five of his first seven shots, the super quick junior guard was perfect from the charity stripe (11-11), and finished with 23 points.

I saw my teammates were scoring easily, so I tried to get them more shots,” Anthony said. “And I’ll take my shots whenever I have them. So I’ll just be patient and take my shots, and I knocked some down in the second half.”

Anthony has now scored more than 20 points in seven of his last ten games. He said after the game that the No. 7 Spiders are “here to win the Championship” and “have to take it one game at a time.”

Duquesne senior Ovie Soko ends his career on a strong double-double, scoring 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds. He collected six rebounds in the first half, four of which came by the first official media timeout. The London, England native – and former UAB Blazer – led the Atlantic 10 in scoring this season (18.2 points per game), and was thankful for the opportunity given to him by head coach Jim Ferry.

“It’s just been a real learning experience,” Soko said. “Coach brought me into a new role here at Duquesne. It’s just been a good experience – growing, being a leader on the team, and leading a bunch of younger guys.  I’ve grown tremendously with the help of the coaches and the players. We bounced off each other, and tonight we just came up short.” 

Sophomore Alonzo Nelson-Ododa finished with 13 points and seven rebounds for the Spiders. Mooney was proud of his sophomore class, referring to them post-game as the “cornerstone of the program.” 

“Alonzo is a great defender who finished at the rim tonight as well he has all season,” Mooney said. “We have these four sophomore front court players who all contributed greatly tonight, who we’re really high on. Those guys are the cornerstone of our program for a few years; the more experiences like this, the more confidence they will have and the better we’ll be.”

The Spiders outshot the Dukes from the perimeter, hitting eight three-pointers – the Dukes went 6 for 24 by comparison. Richmond hit 5 of 12 long-range shots in the first half. Duquesne missed eleven three-pointers in the first half.

Junior Dominique McKoy led the Dukes in scoring during the first half with eight points, and finished with ten, adding eight rebounds. Freshman L.G. Gill  hit a pair of three-pointers in the first half, and scored ten points on the night.

Sophomore Micah Mason is the NCAA leader in three-point percentage (57 percent, 2.7 3PM/G) this season, but he could not find his shot on Thursday, finishing 0 for 2.

“They switch at every position.. on every exchange.. they really switched out deep on him, so they really didn’t give him any comfort or any looks at the basket,” Ferry said. “You really have to credit them defensively for locking in on him. They funneled us to the inside, which Micah passed the ball well today, but we needed him to score, and he really didn’t have any open looks.”

“I thought our defense was really good,” Mooney said. “Obviously Micah Mason is the best three-point shooter in the country. I thought we were very alert to him.”

After two years with the Dukes, Ferry is pleased with his team’s 10th place finish, acknowledging that it takes time to rebuild a program.

“I’ve done it before,” Ferry said. “And when you’re in a league that’s such a monster of a league, it takes some time, because there’s just great players and great coaches. You need multiple recruiting classes.”

Ferry continues, “I think the experience of being able to grind at the end of the year, make a run, finishing tenth in a great league, that’s an accomplishment for a young group. We just have to be able to build on that with recruiting classes and maturity and growth.”

VCU head coach Shaka Smart watched the entire game from a court side seat. His No. 2 Rams will take on the Spiders Friday at 6:30 p.m, the first time the two Virginian schools will meet in the Atlantic 10 tournament. Mooney and his players are excited to add a new chapter to the state rivalry.

“It’s always been a real big rivalry,” Mooney said. “I think the fact that they joined [the Atlantic 10] is great for both programs. I think it’s good for the Atlantic 10, I think it’s probably even intensified [the rivalry] a little bit because you’re obviously playing twice – playing later in the season. So it’s definitely a big game, a great rivalry.”

“We know what to expect,” Anthony said. “I think that’s the best thing, you know, all our guys know what to expect with them – their defense. We know how to handle it.”

“It’s good that we just played them last week, so we are already on the scout, and it’s just how we ended up matching up with them,” Nelson-Ododa said. “We’re ready to play tomorrow.”

Joe Manganiello (@JoeMags_hoops) is a staff writer for pickinsplinters.com. He was published in the 2013-14 USA Today Sports College Basketball Preview. Peace, love, recycle and ball.

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