Dukes climb back to .500

Claire Murray | The Duquesne Duke
Claire Murray | The Duquesne Duke

Joey Sykes | The Duquesne Duke

The Duquesne men’s basketball team exited the Palumbo Center Wednesday night with a win in the first of a three-game home stand as they defeated University of Maryland-Baltimore County 94-88 to improve to 3-3 on the season.

The first half was as close as it could get for the two teams. The Dukes did however find themselves up by 9 points at one point in the matchup but it quickly evaporated after the Retrievers hit some key threes to bring the game back within reach. A hard fought final minute of play left the Dukes with very little breathing room heading into the locker room. They led by only three at the half.

Senior forward Jerry Jones had himself an impressive first half putting up 11 points after only scoring just 2 this whole season. It is to be noted though that he was not active in the first two games due to suspension. He finished the game with 14 total points.

Coach Jim Ferry was impressed with Jones’ effort.

“The ability to have a senior come off the bench I thought really helped us today,” Ferry said. “Jerry came in and stepped up and he played and shot the ball well.”

In recent games, the Dukes have been struggling at the foul line and their game last Saturday against Pitt uncovered those troubles. The Dukes went 18 for 35 against the Panthers at Consol and went 26-41 last night against a UMBC team that is known to foul a lot.

Tra’Vaughn White believes free throws are something the team has to improve.

“It’s something we work on everyday,” White said. “It’s really just getting up there in the game and concentrating.”

Duquesne opened up the second half of play with a dominating 13-2 offensive run through the first five minutes. Leading by as many as 12 points, the Dukes intended to put away the Retrievers as soon as possible. The men were able to limit their opponent to under 50 points through the first 10 minutes which showed that their defense was slowly but surely improving not only in this game, but through the first few games of the season as well.

Ferry stressed that defense is the primary concern for the team at this point.

“When we are playing with small guards, we have to learn how to defend more consistently,” Ferry said. “We have to play more aggressively and we can’t allow teams to set the tone.”

Sophomore guard Derrick Colter agreed with his coach.

“We played defense in spurts,” Colter said. “In the first half, we were just going back and forth with them. We have to make more stops.”

Offensively, Duquesne played very unselfishly. They were able to score 48 points from the paint while the Retrievers only put up 28. On the defensive end, they forced 12 turnovers.

The Dukes were able to stave off a UMBC rally in the final minutes of the gameplay and walked off the court victorious. The game’s top scorers were junior Tra’Vaughn White with 22 points and sophomore Derrick Colter with 20.

The Dukes will head across Fifth Avenue next Wednesday afternoon as they take on Penn State in the second of their three-game home stand. The Dukes will tip-off against the Nittany Lions at 2 p.m. at Consol Energy Center.