By Andrew Holman | The Duquesne Duke
The Dukes got their first taste of the postseason since 2011, defeating Nebraska-Omaha by a staggering 120-112 score. And nope, there was no overtime.
Duquesne shot a remarkable 63 percent from the floor and converted on 34 of 44 free throw attempts in this high-scoring affair. The Dukes are a team that lost eight of their last 10 games, but one that found a way to advance in the College Basketball Invitational Tournament thanks to some balanced scoring.
Per usual, Derrick Colter led the way with 28 points — 14 of those from the free throw stripe. Along with Colter’s 28, Jordan Robinson added 17, while Eric James, Micah Mason and L.G. Gill all tallied 16 points each for the Dukes.
Coming into the game, only three members of the Red & Blue averaged double digits in scoring, but against the Mavericks, six Duquesne players finished with 10 or more points.
Additionally, six Duquesne players played more minutes in this game than they traditionally have so far this season.
The combination of foul trouble and the absence of TySean Powell certainly contributed to the parity in minutes, but the guys further down in the rotation showed up ready to play.
All season this team relied on its seniors Colter and Mason to shoulder the load, but finally in March these guys got the help to which they have been waiting. A lot of that help came from the big men inside.
Duquesne outscored Omaha 36-28 in the paint and sophomore Robinson set a new career high with his 17 points. The lesson to be learned is that increased opportunity for these role players very well might have resulted in increased success that head coach Jim Ferry’s certainly could have used throughout the season.
It seemed that once the Atlantic 10 Conference season began, Ferry became reluctant to go deep into his bench.
Only six Duquesne players averaged more than 11 minutes per game throughout the season. It’s hard to win games and keep players fresh with a six to seven man rotation.
The good news is that this CBI Tournament is giving Ferry a chance to play some of these players who are going to be vital to the Dukes’ success next season.
What’s next for Duquesne (17-16) is a duel with the Eagles of Morehead State in the second round of the CBI on Monday March 21 at 7 p.m. The Eagles will enter the matchup with a 20-12 record fresh off an 84-80 win over the Siena Saints in their first round contest. The game will be played at Ellis T. Johnson Arena in Morehead, Ky.
Fans can only hope that the matchup with Morehead State will not resemble the one against Omaha in the sense that there were 80 free throws taken and exactly zero lead changes in the entire game. However, Duquesne fans will be hoping for the same result — a win and a chance to climb even closer to a CBI Tournament Championship appearance.