Western Michigan is a big strong, physical team that runs the motion offense with precision and patience and excels in the half-court game.
Duquesne is not a tall team but its players are athletic and play well in transition. The Dukes also are capable of scoring a lot of points quickly because so many of them can bury 3-pointers.
Naturally, when the teams met Wednesday night, this contrast in styles morphed into a battle of wills, which the Dukes won because they were able to get the game to unfold in a style closer to what they are comfortable with. And that is a big reason the Dukes raced to a 71-66 win against the Broncos before a crowd of 2,839 at the Palumbo Center.
Duquesne (7-5) tied a season-high with 12 3-pointers on a season-high 32 attempts and got a huge night from freshman point guard Derrick Colter, who scored a career-high 25 points to go along with six rebounds and three assists.
Colter, who made four 3-pointers, and senior Sean Johnson, who had 18 points and also made four 3-pointers, provided the offense, but the Dukes defense got a huge boost from the play of forward Andre Marhold, who had four blocks, and both Jeremiah and Jerry Jones.
Western Michigan (7-4) outrebounded the Dukes, 44-41, but, given the size advantage the Broncos had at nearly every position and particularly in the post, the fact that the Dukes kept it that close was a big reason they held on to win the game.
"I thought Andre was tremendous in the post; he played with a lot of energy and his aggressiveness under the basket on defense really set the tone, especially in the second half," said Duquesne coach Jim Ferry. "This was a hard, physically fought basketball game. That team is a great rebounding team, and we're not there yet as rebounders but we held our own.
"I told Jerry and Jeremiah Jones don't worry about scoring points; their only job was to wear down [Broncos leading scorer] Nate Hutcherson, who is a phenomenal player, and, if you look, those guys held him to 1-of-12 shooting and only seven points."
The game was physical -- Jeremiah Jones scored 11 points but was ejected in the second half for throwing an elbow that struck Hutcherson,
That helped the Broncos, but the Dukes were able to offset that by getting and maintaining a much faster pace than Western Michigan wanted.
"Coach said keep pushing the ball at them, and we tried to do that," Johnson said. "When we were driving to the basket, they were doing a good job of sagging in but we were able to find some kickouts.
"We shot a lot of 3s tonight, and that wasn't really the game plan, but [Ferry] gives us the freedom on offense to shoot as long as we make the right play and they were giving us the 3s -- and we're not shy about shooting them."
Ferry said although he favors the transition game and likes to give his team freedom to shoot, some of the Dukes 3-pointers were probably forced, and, as a result, they gave the Broncos some opportunities to get back into the game.
But Duquesne, which led 8-0 early, never trailed and started the second half with a 7-0 run to take an 11-point lead, was able to hold onto the lead because its defense was stellar most of the game.
The biggest stretch came midway through the second half when the Dukes went six minutes without scoring but maintained their lead because their defense shut down the Broncos.
"We showed some poise and a lot of character to hold the lead in that stretch," Ferry said.
"We couldn't score for [six] minutes but we kept grinding on defense, kept guarding them and we got stops when we needed them.
"Then, Sean hit the 3-pointer right in front of our bench, and that got us going again."mobilehome - duquesnesports
Paul Zeise: email@example.com, 412-263-1720 and Twitter @paulzeise.