Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor
In its final non-conference matchup on Tuesday night, the Duquesne men’s basketball team got back in the win column. The Dukes beat Texas-Pan American 78-72 at the Palumbo Center and finish their non-conference schedule at 5-6.
Head coach Jim Ferry thought the emphasis on interior scoring worked on Tuesday night better than it did when the Dukes fell to the University of Maryland Eastern Shore on Sunday afternoon.
“I thought our guys came out and played really, really hard today,” he said. “We emphasize [low post play] every game, it just doesn’t always work out that we can get the finish or the bucket. We always want to play inside out first.”
Any breakdown of this game needs the major caveat that the Broncs are not an A-10 caliber opponent. They were tied for last in the preseason coaches’ poll in the Western Athletic Conference. Their five wins came against opponents with a combined record of 14-25.
That being said, the Dukes made improvements in areas where they have struggled this season – shooting and rebounding. The Dukes shot the ball better from the field (55.3 percent), as well as the foul line (21-of-27). The Dukes outrebounded the Broncs 40-27 and scored 32 points in the paint, the most since their game against Howard on Dec. 2.
Senior forward Dominique McKoy felt this game was important preparation for Atlantic-10 play.
“I am glad we played the way we played going in to the A-10, so we can have that confidence. It is going to big for us [frontcourt players] to step up,” he said.
The Dukes got off to a good start. They won the tip and got high-percentage baskets from McKoy and sophomore forward Darius Lewis. Then things began to fall apart for the Dukes. In the four minutes after, they committed two fouls, lost three turnovers and missed two layups and a bad jumper.
The Dukes looked ready to fold up and take the loss, but then something interesting happened. They fought back and got the game close again. After that opening stretch they kept the game close and took a seven-point lead to the locker room at halftime.
In the second half, the Dukes maintained a healthy lead for much of the first 16 minutes. The Broncs made one final push, but never got the lead below three points and could not stop the Dukes from notching the win.
McKoy had a breakout performance in Tuesday’s game. He scored a season-high 12 points and added a season-high nine rebounds.
Ferry was glad to see McKoy play well.
“He played the way he played last year,” he said.
Colter was the catalyst for the offense. He had 11 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.
In his first career start Lewis scored a career-high 11 points, grabbed three rebounds and swatted a career-high five blocks. He felt good about his performance after the game.
“It felt really good. I have been really aggressive when I get into the game, so I went out there and played hard for your teammates,” he said.
McKoy said that Ferry emphasized getting Lewis the ball early in the game.
“That was one of the points coach made to us, to go through [Lewis] early, to feed him and work through him on our offense because he is a big body and he can catch the ball and finish down low,” McKoy said.
The Red & Blue used a new rotation that allowed some of the younger players to excel off of the bench. Freshman forward TySean Powell (13 points, 3 rebounds) and sophomore forward L.G. Gill (2 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists) played well as subs. Powell showed no signs of injury after the hard fall he took in Sunday’s game against UMES. Freshman forward Jordan Robinson was a casualty to the new rotation, as he did not log a single minute.
Powell and Gill, along with freshman forward Eric James, formed a cohesive unit that provided a spark off of the bench.
“You know what I like about that group? Their length,” Ferry said. “They come in with length and athleticism and they can all score in different ways. So I think that gives us some good energy off of the bench.”
“They play a lot together in practice on our second unit, so they have good feel for each other and good chemistry,” McKoy said.
Leading the way for the Broncs was sophomore forward Janari Joesaar. He finished with 22 points and seven rebounds.
The Dukes open conference play on road against Dayton on Saturday at 1 p.m.