9:00 PM ET, February 26, 2003
A.J. Palumbo Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- There was only one thing for No. 13 Xavier to like about Wednesday night's game against Duquesne: the final score.The Musketeers overcame a subpar second half by star David West, a frantic upset bid and an unusual overtime to hold on for an 80-78 victory. Xavier (21-4, 12-1 Atlantic 10) won its 12th straight, but it hardly came as easily as expected against a team that has lost 10 of 12 and beaten only two ranked teams in its arena in 15 years. "We won the game and that's the thing you can't overlook, but we didn't play our way,'' Xavier coach Thad Matta said. "We weren't mentally sharp and we didn't play as hard as we could have and should have.'' The Musketeers, a 93-58 winner over Duquesne on Jan. 21, almost lost in the final second of regulation and again in overtime. They were so hard pressed to win, all but one starter -- Anthony Myles -- played the entire 45 minutes. It was Myles' desperation tip-in of a miss by West in the final second sent the game into overtime, where Xavier opened an 80-77 lead with 2:18 remaining, only to fail to score again. But the Dukes (9-18, 3-11) scored only one point after that, Kevin Forney's free throw with 1:50 remaining, as they were denied their biggest upset at home since beating then-No. 10 Florida State in 1992. Xavier's Dedrick Finn had a chance to put it away with 17 seconds remaining following two turnovers by West, but missed two free throws that would have put the Musketeers up by four. Duquesne guard Jimmy Tricco, held scoreless in the second half, then missed a 3-point attempt and the Dukes also failed on two putbacks. Duquesne still had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but Forney missed a 3-pointer from the wing and Brad Midgley couldn't get off a follow shot before time expired. "We've worked all season on a 3-pointer to win the game, but we couldn't get it to drop,'' Tricco said. "We had our chances.'' West finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds, leaving him six shy of 2,000 points for his career. But he had only one basket in the second half against the Dukes' collapsing zone defense until scoring to make it 78-75 early in the overtime, an off-balance left-handed layup with two players draped on him. "Both teams were exhausted in overtime,'' said coach Danny Nee, who couldn't get his biggest victory in two seasons at Duquesne. "People were asking what's wrong with us. Nothing's wrong. That was a great team we played, and we had a chance to win.'' Lionel Chalmers scored 17 points, including a 3-pointer to start the overtime. Finn, a freshman, added 16 points and Romain Sato -- averaging 18 points -- had 15 despite getting only two baskets in the first half. Myles had 13 points. Forney scored 18 points, Elijah Palmer had 17 and Ron Dokes added 15 for Duquesne, which 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 don't think the effort was there for us,'' Matta said. "We had no activity on defense ... until we got some big stops (in overtime). We've got to get that turned around.'' Duquesne hasn't beaten a ranked team in the Palumbo Center in 10 years -- or since a 1993 upset of Xavier -- or any ranked team since beating Xavier in 1997. The Dukes are 2-19 in their last 20 games against ranked teams, 0-10 at home. But despite losing its two other games against ranked teams this season (Pitt, Maryland) by a combined 65 points, the Dukes fought back from Xavier's 24-17 lead for a 39-all tie at halftime. "We gave up too many baskets early,'' Matta said. "We couldn't guard a chair.'' Xavier needed to win to keep its Atlantic 10 West lead over No. 25 Dayton (20-5, 12-2), an 82-70 winner at Rhode Island. Xavier took over the division lead by beating Dayton 73-72 Saturday. "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.''