Duquesne blows out Bluefield State
Duquesne's young players passed a dress rehearsal in their regular-season opener Saturday night, as the Dukes dismantled Division II Bluefield State, 110-67, at Palumbo Center.
All four of the Dukes' freshmen played double-digit minutes and were productive, led by guard Mike Talley, who scored 17 points and went 5 of 9 from 3-point range.
Freshman guard T.J. McConnell scored 13 points to go with six assists and four steals. Forward Joel Wright scored five points and had seven rebounds. And forward Jerry Jones had three points, two rebounds and two assists.
"They played way more mature than when I was a freshman," said Duquesne junior forward B.J. Monteiro, who scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.
Duquesne, minus All-Atlantic 10 forward Damian Saunders (suspension) and starting point guard Eric Evans (broken foot), shot 48.8 percent (41 for 84) and built a 50-24 halftime lead. The Dukes have scored at least 100 points in each of their first three games, including two exhibition victories against Division III schools.
"I like the way we've shared the ball," Duquesne coach Ron Everhart said. "I was a little disappointed with our defensive effort in the second half. But our conditioning is good, and we continued to run. Hopefully, we can stay fresh and keep playing hard and distribute the minutes evenly."
Bluefield State (0-2), which dressed just seven players, was led by Julius Lang's 22 points. Hickman Simmons added 15 but committed 12 of the Big Blue's 23 turnovers.
Six other Bluefield State players have yet to pass through the NCAA Clearinghouse.
Duquesne's Sean Johnson scored 15 of his career-high 17 points in the second half. Senior forward Bill Clark added 15 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes. And Rodrigo Peggau scored 14 points and had 12 rebounds.
Duquesne, which next plays Friday at Robert Morris, wound up facing a Division II team in the opener after it was unable to secure a Division I opponent as late as September. But the Dukes weren't alone, Everhart said, pointing to defending national runner-up Butler's 83-54 victory over Division II Marian yesterday.
Clark was impressed with Duquesne's freshmen.
"They battle every day in practice. I feel like they're more comfortable than I was when I was a freshman," Clark said. "I know what it was like to be around the veterans then, and we, as veterans now, want to make them feel comfortable. We feel comfortable with them."
Clark offered yet another message to the young players.
"A game like this will help their confidence," he said, "but further down the road, they're not going to get this kind of opportunity. There won't be as many against the better teams, that's for sure."