DUQUESNE 103:88 CLARION
The season wasn’t half a minute old before Ovie Soko made his first mark at Duquesne. Soko, making his first start in a Dukes uniform after transferring from UAB last fall, won the tip and, moments later, cruised into the lane for a thunderous dunk to open the season.
Soko finished with 17 points and five rebounds in just 18 minutes to lead the new-look Duquesne men’s basketball team to a 103-88 exhibition victory over Clarion on Saturday afternoon at the A.J. Palumbo Center.
It was junior forward Dominique McKoy, Soko’s partner in the paint slotted into the starting lineup after transferring from Cowley Community College, who put up the biggest numbers, with 20 points and 10 rebounds in his debut.
And thus was born a new era for the Dukes, one where second-year head coach Jim Ferry is working with a roster of his choosing and has an offense now that doesn’t live or die by the 3-pointer.
Duquesne averaged 24.1 3-point attempts per game last season but launched just nine against the Golden Eagles.
The exhibition contest wasn’t short on excitement and theatrics.
Midway through the second half, with game well in hand, sophomore guard Derrick Colter took a peek back at Soko as he stole ahead on a breakaway. Colter warded off a defender and sent the ball hard off the glass for an alley-oop to the trailing Soko, who swooped in for a rim-rattling two-handed finish.
Freshman guard Desmond Ridenour, another newcomer, was sloppy at times (seven turnovers), like coach Jim Ferry said he would, but showed plenty of promise, scoring 12 points in backup duties.
Perhaps the best sign of the day was the improved play from the few returning players. Colter returned to form as a true floor general, registering 16 points and nine assists (to just two turnovers), and sophomore forward Jeremiah Jones dumped in 19 points and nine rebounds.
The Dukes, 8-22 a year ago, open the regular season next Saturday against Abilene Christian at the Palumbo Center.
NOTE: Prior to the game, Ferry announced that senior forward Jerry Jones had been suspended for a “violation of team rules” and would sit out both the exhibition and the Nov. 9 season opener against Abilene Christian.