Thursday, February 27, 2003

Musketeers avoid repeat of last year

The Associated Press

PITTSBURGH - This must have sounded familiar to No. 13 Xavier - the Musketeers took a long winning streak into a road game against an Atlantic 10 opponent they figured to beat easily.

Just as they did a year ago, when their 12-game winning streak ended with an 80-78 upset loss at St. Bonaventure, the Musketeers played badly Wednesday night at Duquesne.

There was only one difference this time - Xavier won, even if coach Thad Matta and his players couldn't figure out exactly how they did it.

"That team could have beaten anybody tonight," guard Lionel Chalmers said after Xavier held off Duquesne for an 80-78 overtime victory.

Matta criticized his defense.

"We gave up too many baskets early," Matta said. "We couldn't guard a chair."

"We came out a little lax on defense and once Duquesne got going, they were hard to stop," Chalmers said.

The Musketeers (21-4, 12-1 Atlantic 10) didn't get a basket following star David West's off-balance, left-handed layup with 3:22 remaining or any scoring in the final 2:18. But Duquesne (9-18, 3-11) squandered repeated opportunities, failing to score itself in the final 1:51.

Duquesne still had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Kevin Forney missed a 3-pointer from the wing.

"We've worked all season on a 3-pointer to win the game, but we couldn't get it to drop," Duquesne guard Jimmy Tricco said. "We had our chances."

The Musketeers were so pressed to win, all but one starter - Anthony Myles - played all 45 minutes. Luckily for Xavier, he was rested enough to put back West's miss with less than a second remaining in regulation to send the game into overtime.

West had 19 points and 10 rebounds, leaving him six shy of 2,000 points for his career. But he had only one basket in the final 25 minutes against the Dukes' collapsing zone defense.

"Both teams were exhausted in overtime," said Duquesne coach Danny Nee.

Duquesne stayed in the game by shooting 50 percent - 31-of-62 - despite going 2-of-11 in overtime. The Dukes led by as many as seven points in the second half.

"I knew as soon as that game was over this would be a tough place to play," Matta said. "This was a huge game for them. I had a feeling we were going to get a good shot from Duquesne."

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Xavier 80, Duquesne 78
Musketeers avoid repeat of last year
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