By Natalie Fiorilli | The Duquesne Duke
The Duquesne men’s basketball team found its first win over Penn State since the 2011 season Friday night at CONSOL Energy Center with a 78-52 victory, which propelled the Dukes to 3-0 – their best starting record since 2009.
Senior guard Derrick Colter led the scoring race for Duquesne, racking up 26 points total, tying his career high. Senior guard Micah Mason finished with 14 points and senior forward Jeremiah Jones produced 11. Freshman forward Nakye Sanders led the Dukes with 10 rebounds in his 17 total minutes off the bench. The Dukes shot 50 percent from the arc as well as from the field, tying a program record of 17 3-pointers in the game.
“We came into the game knowing that it was going to be a tough game,” Jones said. “Penn State is a good team. I thought we just defended very well tonight, coming out, we think we can beat anybody. You never go into a game thinking you’re going to lose.”
Mason knocked down two three-pointers at the start of the first half, to give the Dukes a 6-0 run over Penn State. Jones, Colter and Mason each had two threes in the first half, with Colter shooting 5-12 from the field. Five ties occurred before halftime until the Dukes were able to go on an 11-0 run for the remainder of the half, finishing with a 37-26 advantage.
A main goal for the Duquesne this season is to find improvement in defensive play. Colter was happy with his team’s defensive effort, and explained that they will need to perform similarly throughout the season.
“It’s great right now, but we’ve got to be consistent,” Colter said. “We’ve got to do it every game. Today was a great defensive game, and we’ve got to do it every game, and be focused.”
Going out in the second half, Duquesne found its first 24 points from eight successful shots from the 3-point line. The Red & Blue increased its lead to 61-37 with nearly 11 minutes left in the competition. Colter had 14 points alone in the second half, going 4-4 from the arc and shooting 5-6 from the field. The Dukes shot at 58.8 percent from the arc and 60.9 percent from the field for the second half of the game.
Junior forward L.G. Gill who finished with nine points and six rebounds explained that confidence aided their success from the arc.
“Coach said to drive-in and to look out for the open shooter,” Gill said. “[Coach Jim Ferry] just said to penetrate, get in, and look out for the extra pass to our teammates. Just be confident and know they’re going to make the shot.”
Duquesne’s final 26-point advantage was the largest in the team’s history against Penn State. Last season the Dukes lost to Penn State by two points, and Ferry credited the team’s improvement in the past year to maturity.
“I know we didn’t lose many guys, but we’re just a completely different team,” Ferry said. “We’re just a significantly more mature basketball team. We defend significantly better, we have senior leadership, and our forwards aren’t young anymore. It takes some time to build a program, and this is what we’re trying to do, and I think we’re starting to see signs of it.”
Up next, the Dukes will take on Pepperdine Monday at 2:30 in the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Florida. Pepperdine is 1-2 this season, with a recent 81-67 loss to UCLA. Duquesne will compete in the showcase on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and will have their next home game on November 1 against Mississippi Valley State at Palumbo at 7 p.m.