Young trio sparks Duquesne men to OT win
Duquesne's Jeremiah Jones drives to the basket against James Madison in the first half Monday night at A.J. Palumbo Center.
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First-year Duquesne men's basketball coach Jim Ferry said the Dukes were probably a little too reliant on freshmen in their season-opening road losses to Albany and Georgetown, and he was hoping to lean more on the experienced players in this current three-game home stand, especially down the stretch of close games.
But Monday when Duquesne played host to James Madison, that just wasn't in the cards for Ferry as senior Sean Johnson, the team's most experienced and best player, went out with leg cramps with 5:52 to play in regulation and did not return.
The Dukes, however, didn't flinch and played with the poise and character of seasoned veterans, particularly in overtime when the game was hanging in the balance.
As a result, Duquesne claimed its first win of the year, 90-88, against James Madison before a crowd of 2,166 at the Palumbo Center.
Duquesne was led by huge performances from a trio of fearless freshmen -- Quevyn Winters, Jeremiah Jones and point guard Derrick Colter -- who all played the bulk of the minutes in overtime.
"This was a program win," Ferry said. "We were really grinding away at it, kept at it and to see us out there with three freshmen playing so many minutes down the stretch, that showed a lot of growth. At times our inexperience showed and there was some wackiness that looked like we were trying to give the game away, but we kept fighting, kept playing for the next play and that was my message -- forget about mistakes and move on to the next play.
"There were a lot of things that we did wrong and we have a long way to go, but the bottom line is this game came down to a loose ball and we got down on the floor and dug it out and that really sums up who we are and how we played."
There were a lot of swings and several times it looked as if Duquesne might give in, but early on it was hot -- it hit 5 of its first 8 3-pointers -- and thanks to 15 first-half points by Johnson, led, 44-36, at the half.
Duquesne (1-2) maintained control of the game until the 12:19 mark of the second half when James Madison (0-2) went on a 14-0 run and took a 67-61 lead with 8:13 to play on a dunk by Alioune Diouf.
Duquesne fought back -- in large part to 12 consecutive points by Winters -- and made a 20-7 run to take a commanding 81-74 lead with 2:49 to play after Colter hit a jumper.
But James Madison closed the game on a 7-0 run to force overtime. It scored the first three points of overtime to lead, 84-81, with 3:45 to play.
"We could have folded it up at that point but we didn't, we kept fighting," Ferry said. "I think the fact that they are freshmen was good in that at times they don't know they are [supposed to panic] but they just keep playing, they just played basketball and fought back and won."
Duquesne got a big shot from sophomore Kadeem Pantophlet -- a 3-pointer with 1:31 to play that gave the Dukes an 86-84 lead -- but James Madison tied it on a layup by Rayshawn Goins with 1:10 to play.
Colter then gave the Dukes the lead for good with 58 seconds to play with a driving layup.
It was a much different ending for Duquesne, which had lost its first two games down the stretch and mostly due to poor execution and inexperience.
"It made us mature as human beings," Colter said of having to play without Johnson down the stretch.
Johnson led five Duquesne players in double figures with 20 points.
Duquesne will next play North Dakota State (3-1) tonight at the Palumbo Center in the third of four Legend's Classic games. The Bison beat Youngstown State, 83-80, in overtime in the first game of the doubleheader.
First Published November 20, 2012 12:00 am