Coming into tonight’s game, the Dukes were looking to rebound after suffering their first loss of the season in Happy Valley. Down by as many as 10 in a first half, Coach Jim Ferry didn’t sugarcoat his feelings about the beginning of the game.
“That might have been the ugliest first 15 minutes of basketball I’ve ever been associated with,” Ferry said.
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But with 7:01 to go in the first half, Rene Castro, who had 4 points on the season entering tonight’s ballgame, provided the spark the Dukes desperately needed. Over the next 5 minutes, Castro drained four straight from beyond the arch, bringing the Duquesne within 3. The Dukes took their first lead game a minute later and never looked back, defeating St. Francis 89-75 to go to 2-1 on the year.
Ferry commended his guys for fighting back after the ugly start.
“I think our guys really stepped up I thought it was a total team win,” Ferry said. “In regards our guys played unselfishly — 21 assists, and really working for each other.”
Castro’s 12 points at the half tied his career high and he finished with a game high 26, going 6-9 from three. Coming into the game the Dukes had only hit 10 threes in their first two contests. But Wednesday night was a different story as they went 13-25 from beyond the arch. As for Castro moving forward, Ferry says they’ve already seen the potential he can bring to the team and hopes to see more of it.
“We see it in practice a lot ,” Ferry said. “He sat out two years of playing. His first year at Butler he didn’t play and then he sat out another year after he transferred. He was really rusty, he got into better shape and better flow. He played really well in our scrimmage game and now he’s getting into a groove a little bit.”
Castro was not the only Duke to post a career in points in Wednesday’s win. Nebraska transfer Tarin Smith rallied 23 points including 13 in the first half. He had previously tied his career high in points in Duquesne’s win over Loyola Friday night. Coming off knee surgery that sidelined him for the majority of preseason practice, Smith looked to have an extra spring in his step, driving in the lane and finishing on his first three baskets.
“I was just trying to get into a feel, trying to take it slow,” Smith said. “Last game I was rushing things trying to force it. I tried to take what was open and get my teammates involved with extra passes. It worked out for me.”
Despite winning A-10 Freshmen of the Week honors earlier this week, Mike Lewis II struggled after dropping 19 points at Penn St. Lewis attempted only one shot from the field and finished with 0 points and 5 turnovers in 11 minutes of action. Though some outside the program are questioning Lewis’ play, Ferry doesn’t want to hear any of it.
“He’s a freshmen, guys,” Ferry said. “Whether it’s the bloggers, the summer league, which is completely fake, not real, everyone wants to put all these expectations on him. He’s 18 years old it’s going to take time.”
Duquesne will be back on the court Friday night when they play host to Canisius Golden Griffins in the Bluegrass showcase at the A.J. Palumbo Center. Canisius will be looking for their first win of the season. The Dukes will then travel to Lexington to take on the #2 ranked Kentucky Wildcats Sunday, which be live on ESPNU at 9 pm.
Jim Ferry Postgame:
Rene Castro and Tarin Smith Postgame: