BOWLING GREEN - Duquesne coach Ron Everhart suspected he would not have to adjust his team's usual feisty full-court pressure in preparing for Bowling Green State University.
Everhart had heard the Falcons had recently lost starting point guard Ryne Hamblet to academic troubles and wouldn't have yet mastered their ball-handling game plan minus him.
"Knowing they were down one on the depth chart, we thought we might be able to create some more havoc and get easy baskets for ourselves," Everhart said.
The Dukes jumped out to a big early lead and won 96-78 last night at Anderson Arena. BG's rash of turnovers made the difference, as the Falcons committed 24, including nine in the first seven minutes.
"We spotted them points early," BG coach Louis Orr said. "We had some good runs, but in the end that's what did us in."
To begin the game, Duquesne scored eight points off turnovers to take a 17-5 lead. The Dukes (10-3), expected to be in the upper echelon of the Atlantic 10 Conference, shuffled two waves of players in to run the press. They scored 29 points off turnovers.
"We gave in to their defensive pressure at times, but at times we did show we could handle their pressure," sophomore Otis Polk said.
The Falcons (5-7) never led, but cut their deficit to four at halftime and again with 7 1/2 minutes left. They made comebacks with their rebounding and bench play, but could not overcome their early hole.
Polk had a career night for
the Falcons. His 17 points in 31 minutes were both career highs, and his seven rebounds tied a career best.
"Especially since he's come back from break, I've seen him start to arrive," Orr said. "He's playing more confident, got more spring in his step, and I've seen it in practice."
Polk, who entered the night averaging 4.5 points, had 11 points, four rebounds and two blocks in the first half. He did it all without committing a foul. Polk leads the team in fouls.
"I've been working on keeping my hands off and moving my feet more, and just being big," Polk said. "[I] stopped using my body and used my length to help [make] them miss shots."
In the second half, Brian Moten scored 10 points in a four-minute stretch off the bench to keep BG in it. Duquesne made 5-of-8 3-pointers after halftime, though, and the Falcons tired down the stretch.
Despite the turnovers, BG made improvements in other areas. The Falcons shot 46 percent from the floor after shooting 29.1 percent last game and outrebounded the Dukes by nine.
Freshman Chris Knight had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out with 1:20 to play. Nate Miller had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Falcons.
Reggie Jackson led Duquesne with 19 points and Kojo Mensah had 18. Seven players scored at least eight points for the Dukes, who came in averaging nearly 88 points per game.
The last two minutes became an ugly muddle of fouls and free-throw shooting.
Orr was pleased the Falcons shot 33 free throws, but they made just 22. Duquesne shot 45 and made 32.
BG opens its Mid-American Conference season here on Saturday against Ohio.
Orr said his team is still a work in progress heading into league play.
"We are still trying to build winning habits," Orr said.
Contact Maureen Fulton at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6160.44.94351 -86.41843