By Natalie Fiorilli | The Duquesne Duke
In Tuesday night’s victory over Mississippi Valley State, Duquesne men’s basketball improved their record to 6-1 , something the program has not accomplished since the 2007-08 season. Points from 11 different shooters displayed a collaborative effort by the group in its 91-77 victory.
While senior guards Derrick Colter and Micah Mason contributed 34 points total, sophomore forwards TySean Powell and Eric James proved underclassmen can provide depth as well.
Going into halftime, James led the Dukes with 13 points and recorded his first three of the season, finding two in the first half. The sophomore forward has converted on 21 of 23 two-point field goal attempts overall this season and finished Tuesday night’s game with 18 points – a career high.
“I definitely feel like I’m more confident,” James said. “We’ve been working on getting to the basket and that’s been working pretty well so far, so I’m going to just keeping doing that and play within the system.”
Powell made his first career attempts behind the arc, one in each half. The forward racked up 10 points and tied a career high of eight rebounds.
Powell believes he will be able to contribute more this season with the added experience being a sophomore.
“I don’t think I have given my max potential to the team yet,” Powell said. “I still have a lot more to give.”
Combined efforts like these add confidence to the Dukes when considering a future without offensive powerhouses like Colter and Mason. Duquesne is going to need to rely on these players in order to find consistent success this season.
Another important takeaway was Duquesne’s defensive battle. The Dukes held MVSU to only two points in the first eight minutes of the game, jumping on a 17-2 lead early on. MVSU finished the game shooting 39.5 percent from the field and 52.2 percent from the arc.
Coach Jim Ferry was pleased with his team’s selfless play and overall performance, and was happy to see 23 assists on 38 successful shots.
“I thought we came out and played just extremely unselfish basketball,” Ferry said. “I thought we played really hard, especially in the first half. We defended with a great disposition.”
The team’s current record is the best start the squad has seen under Ferry. Going into the game, the Red & Blue were averaging 86 points per game, which showed the team has a powerful offensive group this year.
While the Dukes began the season searching for improvement defensively, the team has seen growth in that field since the first competition, holding opponents to shooting at 39 percent in games leading up to Tuesday.
Duquesne will definitely need to keep up with this type of play in order to hold off higher-scoring opponents as the season continues and the Dukes approach conference play. A tough defensive battle will be especially vital in the City Game on Friday.
“Last year’s team wouldn’t have been able to do this,” Ferry said. “We’re a different team. We’re a better team. We are better defensively and we’re more experienced.”
The Dukes will face the University of Pittsburgh in the annual City Game at CONSOL Energy Center at 7:05 p.m. The Panthers, who are currently 4-1, have defeated Duquesne 52 times in a total of 83 meetings between the two teams. The Red & Blue have not won against Pitt in 14 years.