ALBANY, N.Y. -- The journey that first-year Duquesne head coach Jim Ferry is taking with his Dukes began Friday night in the New York state capital. It is a journey that has a long way to go.
"We're not very good at all," Ferry said matter-of-factly after the Dukes dropped a 69-66 decision against the University at Albany.
"We shoot 37 percent. Our upperclassmen played really poor. We're led by freshmen. We're not a very good team right now.
"It's very early, and we have a lot of work to do."
A pair of freshmen, guard Derrick Colter and forward Quevyn Winters combined for 32 of the Dukes' 66 points.
Colter got the start at point guard and finished with 17 points and three assists.
He also had three turnovers and was 6 for 11 from the free-throw line.
Winters came off the bench to register a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The Dukes outrebounded the bigger Great Danes, 39-35. But that was countered by Duquesne's 15-of-23 shooting from the free-throw line, where Albany made 6 of 7.
"We're going to throw freshmen into the fire, and they're going to make mistakes. They're going to. That's what they are, they're freshmen," Ferry said.
"They're going to get the game experience. Later in the year, we should be better and, hopefully, later in their careers, they're going to be better."
For a first game, both Duquesne freshmen performed well.
Colter was 5 of 12 from the floor, but 1 for 6 from beyond the 3-point arc in 33 minutes. Winters played 19 minutes and was 6 of 9 from the floor and 1 of 3 from outside the arc.
"It was fun. It was a good atmosphere. We just fell short for the win," said Colter, when asked about his first start.
Colter was 1 for 4 from the free-throw line in the final 2:49, but the guard from Forestville, Md., hit a clutch 3-pointer with 2:29 left that put the Dukes ahead briefly, 65-64.
Mike Black, who led the Great Danes with 15 points, answered with a 3-pointer of his own and a dunk by John Puk (14 points, 8 rebounds) with 47 seconds left iced the victory.
Ferry called a timeout with 3.4 seconds left to set up a last-chance shot. Colter got the ball near midcourt, dribbled into the offensive zone and let fly a shot that rattled off the rim.
"It was a good shot," the freshman guard said. "It just didn't go in."
Seven of the 11 Dukes who got on the floor were either freshmen or sophomores. Colter, Winters and Jeremiah Johnson (8 points) are the three freshmen.
The Dukes fell behind early but rallied and picked up their first lead, 11-10, on a 3-pointer by Jeremiah Jones. The Great Danes answered with an 8-2 run and, when Jacob Iati drained a 3-pointer with 12:33 left, Albany led, 18-13.
Albany held the lead into the break and was up at halftime, 37-34.
Albany threatened to blow the game open out of the locker room with a 7-1 run. But Jeremiah Jones' 3-point basket stopped the bleeding.