Duquesne men come up short against NJIT
To coach Jim Ferry, the defensive problems Duquesne exhibited Saturday afternoon against New Jersey Institute of Technology seemed all too familiar.
Bringing back unpleasant memories of the past two seasons, the Dukes allowed NJIT to shoot 56.9 percent as the Highlanders came away with an 84-81 victory at Palumbo Center.
“It was awful defense,” Ferry said. “I didn’t see it coming in regards to that. We’ve been defending pretty well, significantly better than last year. To get outrebounded and allow a team to shoot 57 percent from the field is a really poor effort.”
Duquesne (2-1) came in giving up 66 points per game on 33.9 percent shooting. But NJIT (2-4) shot 61.9 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range in the second half to overcome a 44-41 halftime deficit.
The Highlanders beat the Dukes at their own game, making 12 3-pointers, including six by Damon Lynn, who led all scorers with 27 points. Ky Howard added 16 points, and Winfield Willis had 13 for NJIT.
“I do not want to take any credit away from NJIT,” Ferry said. “They came in here, and they earned that win. But this is on us defensively. I thought we did a really, really poor job. We broke down in our man, we broke down in our zone, and I thought we showed our youth today both offensively and defensively.”
The Dukes’ offense averaged 96.5 points in wins over Bluefield State and Abilene Christian to begin the season. Although Duquesne made 12 3-pointers, the Dukes shot 38.2 percent in the second half to aid NJIT. Micah Mason led the team with 18 points on a career-high six 3-pointers, and Jordan Stevens added 16. Derrick Colter and TySean Powell scored 14 apiece.
“The shots are going to continue to get knocked down; we just need to continue to play unselfish,” Mason said. “But it starts on the defensive end. That’s what hurt us.”
The defensive problems cropped up early, as NJIT made four 3-pointers in the opening seven minutes to take a 22-13 lead. Duquesne rallied behind Stevens and Mason, who scored 10 and nine points, respectively, to stake the Dukes to a three-point lead at halftime.
NJIT made seven of its first eight 3-point attempts in the second half to take control of the game. Lynn gave the Highlanders the lead for good with a 3 at the 12:44 mark, and Willis hit back-to-back treys to put NJIT up nine with eight minutes left.
Trailing 82-73 with two minutes left, Duquesne made a late run. L.G. Gill hit a 3-pointer, and Colter scored on a layup and 3-pointer to make it 82-81 with 27.5 seconds left.
The Dukes had a chance to take the lead after NJIT’s Howard split a pair of free throws, but Gill’s 3-point attempt from the corner was blocked.
“We just proved to ourselves that we’re not going to outscore everybody,” Ferry said. “If that’s your approach, if you think you’re going to outscore people, then you’re not going to win. It’s scoring and defending. We have the ability to score. We obviously didn’t approach the game the right way defensively.”