Micah Mason has quickly proven his value for Duquesne.
Mason, a sophomore guard, came off the bench to hit six of his eight shots for 18 points, one off a career high, in a 96-83 loss Sunday to West Virginia in Morgantown, W.Va.
The Missouri Valley Conference’s top 3-point shooter in 2012-13, Mason transferred to Duquesne from Drake this summer and was granted a medical hardship waiver by the NCAA two weeks ago to be eligible to play this season.
Mason has lived up to the billing as an elite 3-point shooter.
Duquesne’s sixth man, Mason has hit 8 of 15 3-point attempts and has given the Dukes 32 points, 9 rebounds and an 8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in three games.
Mason hit his first five shots against West Virginia, including a four-point play to pull the Dukes within six points at halftime and a 3-pointer early in the second half that tied the score, 59-59.
“Big ups to my teammates who found me in the corner for a couple big shots,” Mason said after putting in 30 minutes against the Mountaineers. “I just try to come in and do what I can to be a good teammate, get stops and bring energy to the court.”
But this Natrona Heights native isn’t just a shooter.
What’s earning Mason significant minutes, according to Duquesne coach Jim Ferry, is his defense.
“Micah statistically has been our best defender in our three basketball games,” Ferry said. “That’s why he’s playing more.
“His offense? We knew he was going to be able to do that stuff, to help us shoot and score the basketball.”
The Dukes have been hounded by opposing guards and perimeter shooting. West Virginia’s guard tandem of Juwan Staten and Eron Harris combined Sunday for 61 points.
Duquesne starts two guards in Derrick Colter (5 feet 11) and Tra’Vaughn White (5-10) that have trouble getting to the perimeter and facing up against taller guards.
Mason’s 6-2, 180-pound frame brings welcomed height — and a defensive focus — to the court.
“Everybody talks about unselfishness,” Ferry said. “You bring in all these new guys and talk about unselfish play. Everybody automatically thinks offense, but it’s not. It’s defense, it’s getting these guys to play together defensively, that’s where the unselfishness really has to come in.”
The Dukes have allowed more than 75 points in each of their three games, and allowed 40 more points to West Virginia Sunday (96 points) than a year ago (56).
“That definitely stung,” Mason said with a shrug. “I thought we played harder than we did at home against New Hampshire, but we’ve just got to keep fighting.”
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.