Colter comes through for Duquesne in season-opening win
Derrick Colter walking onto the court cancer-free Saturday marked Duquesne’s first victory this season, Dukes coach Jim Ferry said.
Then Colter set career highs with 26 points and seven 3-pointers in a 91-51 season-opening victory over Bluefield State at Palumbo Center. It was a remarkable return for the junior guard, who overcame non-Hodgkin lymphoma this summer.
“After all the stuff I was dealing with in the summertime, it felt great out there,” said Colter, who endured weeks of radiation treatments in the spring.
“The season’s finally here — we get to play a game — and yet we’ve already had the biggest victory of all,” coach Jim Ferry said.
Colter, who switched backcourt spots this season, was 7 of 8 from behind the arc. His move from point guard was an immediate boost for him and the Dukes, who now have more than one 3-point shooter.
Micah Mason, the nation’s most accurate 3-point shooter last season, made 3 of 6 from behind the arc and scored 16 points. Mason, the new point guard, also had nine assists.
Without the ball in his hands, Colter was a more dangerous shooter. He was 8 of 9 from the floor, including a four-point play just before halftime. With an assist from Mason, Colter hit the 3-pointer while falling to the floor.
He shot just 36 percent last season.
“He doesn’t have to make as many decisions,” Ferry said. “I think you’ll see his shooting percentages go up. His first two years, the ball was in his hands, and he had to create shots. Being 5-foot-9 it’s difficult, especially in the Atlantic 10.”
At 6-foot-2, Mason is better built to face A-10 defenses from the point. As a freshman, Colter became the team’s point guard out of necessity. Still, he led the team in scoring that season.
“Taking some of that pressure off him allows him to be truly what he is,” Ferry said. “Remember, he was the point guard because when I got here there was nobody here who could dribble the ball.”
The victory marked the second time in three seasons under Ferry that Duquesne has won its opener.
Freshman guard Eric James added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Dukes (1-0), who had a solid debut from their three freshmen: James, forward TySean Powell and center Jordan Robinson.
Junior guard Dajon Reno had 22 points for Bluefield State (0-1), an NCAA Division II team from West Virginia.
This was the first of 11 nonconference games for the Dukes, who visit Abilene Christian next Saturday.
Trailing 8-4, Duquesne’s bench built a lead with a 20-4 run that started five minutes into the first half.
Off the bench, James, Powell, senior forward Dominique McKoy and sophomore guard Desmond Ridenour combined for 14 of the run’s 20 points. The team had 24 first-half bench points, more than its total in 18 games last season.
“The game changed right when we went to our bench,” said Ferry, who predicted he’ll use nine or 10 players this season. “We have some depth.”
Duquesne led 52-25 at halftime when Powell dunked with five seconds left. The three freshmen combined for 19 points and 14 rebounds in the first half. Of the three, only Robinson started.
The second-half lead peaked at 41 points.
“It’s going to take a good seven or eight games,” Ferry said, “to really figure out that niche of what pieces fit together well.”