Saúl Berríos-Thomas | Layout Editor
After two blowout wins and a bad loss at home against the New Jersey Insititute of Technology the Dukes were looking to get back on track against Howard on Tuesday night.
The Dukes’ frenetic pace proved to be too much for the Bison. The Red & Blue won 81-63, led by sophomore forward L.G. Gill, who scored a team-high 17 points. The Dukes improved to 3-1, while the Bison fell to 4-4.
Duquesne plays fast on both ends of the floor. Four players scored in double digits, and the team forced a 16 total turnovers. Freshmen TySean Powell and Eric James combined for 24 points, while junior guard Micah Mason added 12 points of his own, shooting 4-of-9 from 3-point range. Five different players recorded at least one steal.
The game can be perfectly summed up by back-to-back possessions for the Dukes around the four-minute mark in the first half. After a missed free throw from Howard, Gill grabbed the rebound. The Dukes pushed the ball up court and found Powell on the right block for a thunderous dunk.
On the following possession junior guard Micah Mason missed on a 3-point attempt, but in mid-air Gill grabbed the rebound and tipped the ball through the hoop. Those two baskets gave the Dukes a 33-24 lead at 3:56 of the first half. They also highlighted the two leading scorers, Gill and Powell, and the dominance the Dukes displayed.
Powell played extremely well in his first career start on the Bluff. This is only the fourth game of his freshman year. He scored 13 points on 6-of-6 shooting with four dunks. He added one steal, while playing 22 minutes at center.
Gill noticed his young teammate’s good play in his first start in the frontcourt.
“I think he did excellent,” Gill said. “He came in and he played aggressive. He stepped up and did what he had to do so I thought he was great.”
Coach Jim Ferry commented on why the freshman got his first start.
“He’s been playing really well. Ty has been playing well in practice and his athleticism and mobility … you have to reward those things,” he said.
Gill continued a strong sophomore campaign with 17 points to lead the team. He was 8-of-11 from the field and 1-of-2 from beyond the arc. On several possessions the Dukes got Gill the ball in the high post. From there he could either turn and shoot if he was open, or find an open wing player.
Gill commented on this strategy.
“It helps shooters, like Micah, get open because if I get in the high post they have to step up and I can just look in and find my shooters. If no one steps up, then I can take a shot or make a play,” he said.
Ferry thought the Bison made that available to Gill.
“[It is] what that zone gave you. They extend and they pressure within that zone, so we knew the high posts were open. L.G. is a really skilled player,” he said.
The Dukes led by as many as 13 points in the first half and headed to the locker room with an 41-30 lead. They started the second half strong but faltered a bit midway through. The Bison shrank the lead to seven at 13:35 on a 3-pointer from sophomore forward Damon Collins. That basket came during a three minute stretch during which time the Dukes were held scoreless, committed two turnovers and allowed an offensive rebound.
But Mason got hot just in time to stop the Bison run and regain the momentum. He hit back-to-back 3-pointers that put the Dukes up by 13, a lead the Dukes would hold the rest of the way. Mason finished the game with 12 points and added four rebounds and five assists.
The ever-modest Mason played up his teammates part in his success on those possessions.
“I thought at that point our offense was hurting us more than our defense because we weren’t really scoring and we had a couple turnovers. They saw me when I was open and I knocked a couple down to go on a run,” he said.
Desmond Ridenour missed the game due to a violation of a “team rule,” according to Ferry, but will be back for the next game.
James Daniel III led the Bison with 22 points. He was 6-of-20 from the field.
The Dukes now turn their focus towards the “City Game” with cross-town rival Pitt. They play at 7 p.m. on Friday at Consol Energy Center.