Thursday, February 27, 2003

Xavier 80, Duquesne 78

Musketeers pushed to brink, win in overtime

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

PITTSBURGH - Xavier feels pretty lucky today. If not for a fortunate tip-in Wednesday night, the No. 13 Musketeers could be sitting back in second place in the Atlantic 10.Instead, Xavier forced overtime with Duquesne on a last-second tip-in by Anthony Myles in regulation and hung on for an 80-78 win.

David West goes up for two first-half points in front of Duquesne's Ron Dokes.
(AP photo)
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The Musketeers (21-4, 12-1) have now won 12 consecutive games overall, matching Xavier's longest win streak last season when the Musketeers finished with a 26-6 record. It is three games shy of the 15-game streak Xavier put together during the 1987-88 season.

Duquesne (9-18, 3-10), which has won just two of it past 12 games but plays well at the A.J. Palumbo Center, gave the defending A-10 champions and current leaders plenty to worry about.

Xavier trailed for most of the second half but took an early 76-73 lead in overtime on a Lionel Chalmers 3-pointer. The Musketeers led the rest of the way, but Duquesne wasn't done. The Dukes missed three layups in the final 10 seconds that could have tied the game. They still had a shot in the final seconds, inbounding the ball under their own basket with four seconds left. But a Kevin Forney 3-pointer was off the mark at the buzzer.

"We pulled it out," Chalmers said. "That's all that matters."

Much like the teams' first meeting Jan. 21 at Cintas Center, Duquesne matched Xavier shot-for-shot in the first half and went into halftime tied with the Musketeers 39-39.

"Duquesne played a great game," said Xavier coach Thad Matta. "And we weren't as mentally focused as we needed to be."

Coach Danny Nee talked to his team earlier this week about upsetting a nationally ranked team at home, and Duquesne had a chance when the Dukes took a 60-55 lead on a fast-break dunk by Elijah Palmer with 10:11 to play.

Thirty seconds later, Forney hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to push the margin to eight. The Dukes were shooting 63 percent at that point but made only four of 19 shots after that.

Xavier clamped down, but it was more than seven minutes before the Musketeers regained the lead. Costly turnovers, missed free throws and errant layups kept Xavier from taking control of the game.

The Musketeers still trailed 68-65 when David West made one of two free throws with 3:29 to play. He led Xavier with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

"We kept trying to get one shot to take the lead," Matta said. "And when things weren't going the way we felt they should go, we didn't play as hard as we should have."

Dedrick Finn cut the lead to 68-66 when he made one of two free throws with 1:51 to play. Then Lionel Chalmers hit a 3-pointer with 1:05 left, giving Xavier a 69-68 advantage. But Chalmers fouled Palmer at the other end and the 6-foot-7 junior made both free throws to put Duquesne back on top.

Trailing 70-69, West had a chance to give Xavier the lead with 24 seconds left, but Simplice Njoya stripped the ball away from him. Then Ron Dokes made two free throws, giving Duquesne a 72-69 advantage. West made a field goal and was fouled with 12 seconds left but missed the tying free throw. He then missed a layup with 1.5 seconds left, but Myles was there for the tip-in that sent the game into overtime.

Xavier had to win to stay in first place in the Atlantic 10 after Dayton beat Rhode Island Wednesday 82-70.

The Dukes fell to 9-18 and 3-10 overall.


Musketeers avoid repeat of last year

Team rebounds - 3.

Team rebounds - 3.

3-pointers - XU 10-23 (West 0-1, Chalmers 5-11, Sato 1-5, Finn 4-6), D 7-18 (Palmer 1-3, Dokes 0-1, McAllister 1-2, Tricco 3-6, Forney 1-5, Bluemling 1-1). Technicals - None. Officials - Rose, Day, Clark. Attendance - 4,873.

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