Struggling Duquesne humbled at La Salle

| Saturday, March 2, 2013, 6:39 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA — Times are tough for Duquesne right now, but the Dukes hope it will make them tougher for a brighter future.

Duquesne suffered its fourth straight loss and 15th in the past 16 games in a 97-64 rout at La Salle on Saturday that could have been much worse.

The Explorers (20-7, 10-4 Atlantic 10) are fighting for their first NCAA berth in 20 years and played like it. The Dukes (8-20, 1-13), under first-year coach Jim Ferry, are building for the future.

“This is part of the building process,” Ferry said. “Three years from now we're going to look back on this (and say) ‘Look where we've come from.' It's part of the journey you have to take. It's more important the kids understand you can learn something from this, never giving up, how do you deal with adversity, how do you deal with tough times and that's what we have to take out of it.

“It's hard to look at it that way right now.”

The Dukes never were in it against La Salle, which scored 13 of the first 14 points and led by as many as 27 while taking a 50-25 halftime lead. Duquesne never got closer than 18 in a second half that saw the Explorers go ahead by 37 at one point.

“I thought we ran into a complete buzz saw,” Ferry said. “I thought we faced a highly motivated team with a sense of urgency that's significantly more talented than us. They just overwhelmed us. I thought our kids fought, I thought our kids played hard. You saw the discrepancy in talent level.”

Once again, Ferry leaned on his freshmen as he's trying to build for the future, starting three against La Salle. Freshman Derrick Colter led the Dukes with 16 points to go with five assists and four rebounds.

“We fought a hard game,” Colter said. “We're a new team, new coach. We're just learning. All we're doing is staying with each other and working hard in practice. It doesn't matter what our record is, we're just going to keep working and get better every day.”

Losing isn't easy, but Colter hopes it can have a positive benefit.

“It's going to make us way stronger,” he said. “It shows your character, if you're a man or not. If you keep losing and keep fighting, it shows you're competitive and want to keep playing until you win. If people give up, that means you don't care about basketball. I'm going to keep fighting.”

Ferry likes the resolve he's seen from Colter and fellow freshman Quevyn Winters, who netted 13 points against La Salle. Now, he would like to add some talent similar to the Explorers, who feature a guard-heavy attack that Ferry compared to his LIU Brooklyn teams.

“They can all pass, dribble and shoot. And they really exposed our limits,” he said. “We need to continue to recruit aggressively. If we can get guards like that, we'll build it.”

For now, they'll have to live with the lessons of losing.

One thing, Colter says, is certain: They will keep trying.

“As long as it takes, but we're going to keep working,” he said. “Coach has faith in us and we have faith in him.”

Aaron Bracy is a freelance writer.

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