NCAA News Wire

Duquesne stops Saint Louis’ 19-game win streak

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ST. LOUIS — As Saint Louis’ program-record winning streak reached 19 games, its level of play did not always suggest that of the nation’s 10th-ranked team.

But almost no one would have thought the Billikens’ first loss since Dec. 1 would happen against a sub-.500 squad on a night when they could have clinched a share of the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season title.

Duquesne scored on 10 straight second-half possessions Thursday, overcoming a seven-point deficit to pull a 71-64 upset at Chaifetz Arena.

Guard Micah Mason scored a game-high 22 points for the Dukes (12-15, 4-10) and senior forward Jerry Jones came off the bench for 19 points, 16 after halftime.

“This means as much as any win since I’ve been here,” Jones said with a big grin on his face. “Especially coming off a couple of tough losses.”

It was just the fourth win over a ranked A-10 team for Duquesne in 39 attempts and its first win against a top 10 team since it upset Xavier 72-68 on Feb. 7, 2009. Simply put, it is easily the biggest win for second-year coach Jim Ferry.

“It’s a great win for this program,” Ferry said. “We’re trying to rebuild this program, so to get a marquee win like this is great. More importantly, we have to build off this win. I think it’s going to instill some confidence in us.”

The Dukes nearly knocked off Saint Louis (25-3, 12-1) on Jan. 22, leading in the last minute before losing 76-72. This time, they made key plays down the stretch on both ends of the floor.

Mason drilled a desperation 30-footer to beat the shot clock with 13:04 left, cutting the Billikens’ lead to 42-38 and starting a game-changing 24-9 run in a 7:54 span. Jones contributed 12 points in that spurt, including seven in a row that gave Duquesne a 55-47 advantage.

“I just tried to stay aggressive and be ready when they called my number,” Jones said.

Saint Louis drew as close as 61-57 after center Rob Loe made a free throw with 58.8 seconds left, but Jones slipped behind a pressing defense for a transition layup. Mason sealed the result by sinking 6-of-7 foul shots in the final 40.3 seconds.

Forward Ovie Soko added 12 points for the Dukes, which averaged 71.5 points against a team that allows only 59.9 per game.

“They’re a fast team,” Saint Louis center Rob Loe said of the Dukes, “and they outhustled us. They got us out of rhythm.”

Guard Mike McCall Jr. scored 18 points to lead four Billikens in double figures. Guard Jordair Jett added 13 and Loe finished with 12. Forward Dwayne Evans chipped in a 10-point, 12-rebound double-double.

But Saint Louis made just 40.4 percent of its shots from the field, including a miserable 4-of-23 from 3-point range, and committed 16 turnovers. Loe said the Billikens were selfish on offense, even though they drew 14 assists on 23 field goals.

It was the Billikens’ first loss since a 70-65 defeat to unbeaten and second-ranked Wichita State on Dec. 1. It was just the fifth loss in their last 51 home games.

Saint Louis coach Jim Crews said the team was not caught looking ahead to Saturday’s trip to VCU.

“We haven’t done that for three years,” he said. “Maybe they did, I don’t know, but that’s not how this group does things. It’s not the end of the world.”

Meanwhile, Duquesne celebrated a rare burst of sunshine for a program that has not been relevant for most of the last 40 seasons. Its last NCAA Tournament bid came after the 1976-77 season and the team has only been to six postseason tournaments since then.

“I thought we really kept our defensive disposition tonight,” Ferry said. “We stayed locked in on defense. We tried to take away the interior and make them shoot 3s. We knew if we kept playing the right way, we could score, even though they’re a great defensive team.”

NOTES: Duquesne F Ovie Soko entered the game with 254 free-throw attempts, the third most of any Division I player. … Saint Louis G Jordair Jett was selected the Atlantic 10 Conference