Duquesne upsets Temple to snap 11-game skid
PHILADELPHIA — As loss after loss piled up, coach Jim Ferry's young Duquesne players refused to give up.
The effort finally paid off for the Dukes in a stunning 84-83 upset of Temple on Thursday night at Liacouras Center.
Freshman Derrick Colter made two free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining to put the Dukes ahead for good, helping Duquesne snap an 11-game losing streak and win its first Atlantic 10 game under its first-year coach.
“There's only been one game where we got beat at playing hard. We've been playing hard all year,” Ferry said. “We've had great enthusiasm in practice every day. We just kept grinding and grinding and grinding. The kids kept believing. I'm really proud.”
The Dukes (8-16, 1-9 A-10) were relieved, too. It looked like they would easily snap their skid of 11 consecutive losses, but the streak weighed heavily on them down the stretch. Playing well all evening, the Dukes led by eight points with one minute, 25 seconds remaining before turnovers and missed shots against Temple's full-court pressure resulted in the Owls (16-8, 5-5) going ahead, 83-82, on Khalif Wyatt's three-point play with 7.4 seconds remaining.
“We very easily could've put our heads down and said, ‘Here we go again,' ” Ferry said. “We have young kids on the floor. They have old kids on the floor.”
But the Dukes didn't. Ferry called a timeout after Wyatt's bucket and told the Dukes they were going to win. Colter quickly drove the length of the court and was fouled by Dalton Pepper while trying to get to the basket.
Colter entered the game as a 60 percent free-throw shooter but had confidence from shooting 50 free throws after every practice with roommate and fellow freshman Quevyn Winters. Colter calmly drained both free throws, and the Dukes celebrated when Pepper's 30-foot attempt at the buzzer clanked off the rim.
“Coach told me to focus, concentrate, bend my knees and shoot like I shoot in practice,” Colter said. “I believed in myself and tuned the crowd out.”
Said Ferry, “You dream about it as a kid. He stepped up, ice in his veins. … For him to step up, great confidence.”
Colter finished with 17 points, six assists and four steals, while Winters led the Dukes with a career-high 22 points on scintillating shooting: 8 of 9 from the field, 5 for 5 from the arc. The third freshman in the starting lineup, Jeremiah Jones, had nine points and six rebounds.
“It felt good,” Winters said. “Shots were just falling for me.”
The Dukes also got a career-high 15 rebounds from senior Andre Marhold to go with his 15 points. They overcame a career-high 35 points from Wyatt, a leading candidate for the league's Player of the Year honor.
The Dukes were happy to put the losing streak in the rear-view mirror.
“It's emotional,” Colter said. “You just have to get through it. Coach said to keep your heads up, keep working and keep fighting, and it's going to happen.”
Said Winters, “It was real tough. We just had to dig deep. Coach said us losing all these games is going to help build character. That's why we're just going to keep playing hard no matter what happens.”
Now they hope to build on the win beginning Saturday when Rhode Island visits Palumbo Center.
“For us to go on the road and beat a really good Temple team, hopefully it gives our kids confidence,” Ferry said. “It's not just talk they can do it. They showed themselves they can do it. Hopefully we can turn this around and win back to back.”
Said Winters, “It can give us experience, build character, and hopefully we can get a streak going.”
Notes: The win was the first in nine tries at Liacouras Center for the Dukes, who last beat Temple in Philly on Jan. 30, 1995. … The game was a rematch of the 2009 Atlantic 10 final. … Duquesne shot 49.1 percent (27 for 55) from the field and 43.5 percent (10 for 23) from the arc.
Aaron Bracy is a freelance writer.