As a 19-year-old sophomore, Derrick Colter wears the jersey of a veteran.
Surrounded by mostly new teammates, Colter led Duquesne with 23 points in the Dukes' 94-75 nonconference victory Saturday over Abilene Christian in the season opener at Palumbo Center.
It was the 14th time in Colter's 31 games that the point guard has been Duquesne's leading scorer. But unlike a season ago when he shouldered a heavy burden, Colter has found help.
Five Dukes reached double figures against Abilene Christian.
“(My role) is a lot better,” Colter said. “It's a lot easier because we've got so many weapons, and they can't stop us all. Coach tells us in practice to move the ball around because we all can score.”
Seven newcomers made their regular-season debut. Among them were junior guard Tra'Vaughn White (20 points), senior forward Ovie Soko (17 points, 13 rebounds) and junior forward Dominique McKoy (11 points). Sophomore Jeremiah Jones, one of just three holdovers, had 10 points.
Duquesne (1-0) scored the first 12 points and held a 54-29 halftime lead over Abilene Christian (0-1), a Southland Conference team that transitioned this season from Division II. The Wildcats shot just 8 of 33 in the first half.
“Playing this many new guys, I thought it was a pretty good effort all the way around,” Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said. “I really liked our defensive disposition, and I liked our aggressiveness to attack. I thought we were relentless on both sides of the ball.”
The first of 12 consecutive nonconference games for the Dukes also was sophomore Micah Mason's debut. Mason, a transfer from Drake who starred at Highlands, needed just 28 seconds to make his first 3-pointer. He entered five minutes into the first half and scored five points.
The Dukes shot 55 percent in the first half (16-29), including 6 of 8 by Colter, who had 15 points before halftime. A pair of Colter 3-pointers 67 seconds apart — separated only by a Soko dunk — pushed Duquesne's lead to 34-11.
A season ago, Colter started all 30 games, averaged 32 minutes and was chosen for the Atlantic 10 all-rookie team.
“He's not a true sophomore,” Ferry said. “The amount of minutes he played last year and what he did for our program — led us in scoring (13.5), led us in assists (5.2), made some plays in big games — he's more like a junior in regards to experience. He's got that feel for the game.”
Duquesne's play waned once the lead reached 30 early in the second half. The Dukes were outscored 46-40 after halftime. Harrison Hawkins had 26 points for Abilene.
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