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Duquesne holds off late Western Michigan rally for 71-66 win

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Freshman Derrick Colter had 25 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists to lead Duquesne to a 71-66 win over Western Michigan at the AJ Palumbo Center Wednesday night.

The Duquesne Dukes held off a second-half comeback from the Western Michigan Broncos to take home a 71-66 victory Wednesday night at the A.J. Palumbo Center. After leading by as much as 13 points in the second half, the Dukes allowed Western Michigan to cut the deficit to just three points with 8:26 to play and Duquesne leading 54-51.

From there, Duquesne held on despite shaky free throw shooting and managed to take home a win that was won inside the paint Wednesday. The Broncos out-rebounded the Dukes, 44-41, but head coach Jim Ferry said he was proud of the way his team battled after “taking one on the chin” against Robert Morris Saturday.

“I thought that was a hard, physically fought basketball game,” Ferry said. “It was a great win for us against a really good team.”

As a result of Duquesne’s defense, the Dukes were able to lock down the Broncos’ leading scorer, senior forward Nate Hutcheson. This came with the challenge Ferry issued to both Jeremiah Jones and Jerry Jones before the game.

“We talked before the game to Jeremiah and Jerry Jones that their job—I really didn’t care about the points they scored tonight—it was gonna be them wearing down Hutcheson, who is a phenomenal basketball player,” Ferry said.

As a result of the work done by the Joneses, the Broncos’ leading scorer—averaging 13.6 points entering the game—scored only 7 points Wednesday, making only 1 of 12 attempts from the field.

Another key to the Dukes’ defensive effort Wednesday, especially in the second half, was the performance of Andre Marhold against Western Michigan’s center, Shayne Whittington. Although Whittington finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Marhold was the key to the Dukes’ interior defense in the second half as both Ferry and Johnson acknowledged. 

“I thought we had a great defensive effort, and we needed it,” Ferry said. “I thought Andre was tremendous. His energy level was fantastic to start the second half, his aggressiveness to rebound the ball and block shots.

“Whittington finished with 20 and 10, but without Andre’s aggressiveness to begin the second half, we would have been in trouble,” Ferry said.

As a result of his ramped-up energy level, Marhold finished the game with nine points, four blocked shots, and a team-high eight rebounds after he only pulled down one in the first half.

“[Marhold] started being a beast down there, and we didn’t give them any free lay-ups,” Johnson said.

With the size advantage the Broncos held against the Dukes, much of Duquesne’s offense derived from the guard play, which was delivered strongly by freshman Derrick Colter and senior Sean Johnson. Colter set a career-high with 25 points on 9-17 shooting, while Johnson put up 18 going 5-15 from the field.

“I knew we had to attack them with our quickness,” Ferry said. “We couldn’t play a slow-down game with these guys…we had to get stops and play with our quickness in the open courts.”

By getting out in the open court in tandem with the Broncos’ defense packing the inside, the Dukes took a lot of 3-point shots, which Ferry attributed to the shots the Dukes got early, which then became quick shots. Duquesne attempted 32 3-pointers Wednesday, including 19 in the first half which Ferry noted was “a lot of 3's.”

But, with the shots available, players like Colter and Johnson were happy to fire away from deep. Colter shot 4-11 from distance, and Johnson knocked down four of his eight attempts.

“[Coach Ferry] gives us freedom on offense as long as we make the right play and don’t turn the ball over,” Johnson said. “It really wasn’t a plan [to shoot 3's], but we adjusted to that through the whole game.”

Colter put it simply, saying only “Open shot…shoot.”

With the win, the Dukes will next take on the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns down in the Bayou.  In tow, the Dukes will take momentum after a win against a solid Western Michigan team.

“I thought it was a great win for us,” Ferry said.

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