Duquesne started the season with two road games and lost them both so the Dukes were hoping that some home cooking would change their fortunes as they played host to James Madison in their home opener tonight.
And the home Dukes -- James Madison is the only other Division I team with the nickname "Dukes" -- got their wish in the most unlikely of fashions as they leaned on two freshmen to win, 90-88, in overtime before a crowd of 2,166 at the Palumbo Center.
The Dukes (1-2) led for most of the game, fell behind, and regrouped in time to come away with the hard-fought win and that's impressive considering they did it with their senior leader and star, Sean Johnson, sitting on the bench for the last 5 minutes of regulation and overtime, with an injury.
But the freshman duo of Quevyn Winters and Derrick Colter didn't blink and showed no signs of their youth as they combined for 25 second-half points to lead the home Dukes to the win.
Winters finished with 19 points and seven rebounds while Colter, who plays point guard, had 12 points and seven assists while turning the ball over only twice.
Colter, however, had a chance to ice the game at the free throw line with 23 seconds to play in overtime and Duquesne leading, 90-88, but missed both shots and that gave the visiting Dukes life.
However, Ron Curry missed a short jumper with ten seconds to play and Andre Nation missed a 3-pointer with three seconds to play and time expired while both teams scrambled for the rebound.
Winters and Colter were two of five Dukes to reach double figures in scoring as they got 20 from Johnson, a career-high 12 from PJ Torres and 12 from Jerry Jones.
The home Dukes looked like they were going to run away from the visiting Dukes (0-2) midway through the second half as they led 61-53 and had pretty much had control of the game from the start.
But James Madison made a 12-0 run from the 12:19 mark to the 8:04 mark of the second half to take a 65-61 lead on a 3-pointer by A.J. Davis.
Winters, however, went on a personal mission to bring the Dukes back and scored 12 consecutive points, including a 3-pointer with 5:24 to play that put the Dukes back ahead, 71-69.
After the visiting Dukes tied the game at 71-71, Jerry Jones made a driving lay-up, was fouled and completed the 3-point play with a free throw to give Duquesne a 74-71 lead.
Colter then hit a 3-pointer with 2:04 to play to push the Dukes lead to four -- 77-73 -- and after a blocked shot Winters and Colter appeared to finish off the visiting Dukes with back-to-back driving lay-ups.
Winters play gave the home Dukes an 79-74 lead with 3:15 to play and Colters pushed the lead to 81-74 but James Madison had other ideas, battled back and tied the game at 81-81 with 39.4 seconds to play on two free throws from Devon Moore.
Duquesne had one last shot to win in regulation but both Colter and Winters missed jumpers that would have won the game and time expired.
The first half, and really the whole game, was played at a fast pace and that is much to the Dukes liking as first-year coach Jim Ferry favors the uptempo offense.
But Duquesne led 44-36 at the half in large part because the home Dukes were on target from long range and shot 5-of-8 from 3-point range (62.5 pct) and were a sizzling 16-of-23 from the floor (69.6 pct.).
This -- shooting better -- was a point of emphasis of Ferry in the week off as the Dukes were 4-for-24 from the 3-point line (16.7 pct.) and 21-for-59 (35.6 pct) in a 61-55 loss to Georgetown last week.
Johnson was the star of the Dukes in the first-half as he had 15 of his 20 points in the half on 5-of-6 shooting. Johnson, however, was injured with about 5:52 to play in regulation and that forced the home Dukes to play down the stretch without their best player and most experienced player..
Johnson actually needed to be carried off the court after the game as he was not able to put pressure on his leg.
Paul Zeise: email@example.com or Twitter: @paulzeise