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Dukes miss chance at A-10 lead with loss to Xavier

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Tu Holloway had 20 points and Dante Jackson tied a career-high with 19 as Xavier beat Duquesne 71-63 on Sunday in a game with first place in the Atlantic 10 Conference on the line. B.J. Monteiro had 17 points for the Dukes, who have lost two consecutive games after a school-record 8-0 start in conference play.

Xavier 71 - Duquesne 63
CONSOL Energy Center, Pittsburgh, PA
 
With first place in the Atlantic 10 Conference on the line in front of a sold-out crowd at the Consol Energy Center, Duquesne's up-tempo offense ground to a halt in the second half and Xavier's Tu Holloway took control of the game, boosting the Musketeers to a 71-63 victory Sunday afternoon. Playing for the first time in a week after a last-second loss at St. Bonaventure, the Dukes (16-7, 8-2) entered half-time with the lead but saw it slip away as the club failed to take advantage of Xavier (18-6, 9-1) turnovers and score in transition.
 
Duquesne forced 20 turnovers, but scored just 10 points off those Musketeer miscues.
 
"That's, in my mind, the story of the game," said Dukes head coach Ron Everhart. "We forced it in the end and didn't make that extra pass. "
 
"The number one goal for us was to keep Duquesne out of transition," said Xavier head coach Chris Mack. "We have to get in half court because when in becomes open gym, up and down, they're as good as any team in the country. So I'm really happy with how we defended in transition."
 
The Dukes took a 37-36 lead into half-time, twice overcoming 10-point deficits and fighting the bigger Musketeers to a 16-16 draw on the boards. Despite having only one starter taller than 6-foot-5, Duquesne outscored Xavier 20-16 in the paint. However, after shooting 45.2 percent in the first half, the Dukes' stroke went south: they went 7-of-27 (25.9 percent) from the field after the break.
 
"When you shoot 25 percent in the second half, you're not going to win when you're as small as we are," Everhart said. "We had some open looks that we just didn't get down."
 
Xavier--four-time defending A-10 regular season champs with three consecutive Sweet 16 appearances—used its size and strength advantage to muscle inside while Monteiro and Saunders got in early foul trouble. Seven-footer Kenny Frease converted a physical three-point play 6:53 into the game, taking a Dante Jackson pass and hitting a lay-up off the glass despite a Saunders foul and then converting from the line, stretching Xavier's lead to 18-8.
 
A few minutes later, Saunders missed four lay-up attempts inside, getting swatted by Mark Lyons on the last one. Lyons passed to Frease, who slammed it home to make it 20-11 with 11:05 to play in the first half. Xavier's lead stretched to 25-15 with 8:04 remaining in the first, as freshman Mike Talley turned the ball over and Andrew Taylor fed McLean for a lay-up. Duquesne responded with a 21-8 run, however, keyed by 3-pointers from Bill Clark and B.J. Monteiro.
 
Clark picked up his second and third fouls of the game early in the second half and Monteiro was called for his fourth with 13:32 remaining in the game, adding to the foul issues of Saunders, who had picked up three first-half calls. Yet the Dukes were leading 49-43 with 12:06 left after T.J. McConnell stole the ball from Holloway and zipped down the court, drawing a Mark Lyons foul and converting one of two from the stripe.
 
The Musketeers reeled off a 20-4 run of their own, though, as Holloway and Jackson buried the Dukes both from inside and from deep.
 
Holloway, the Atlantic 10's leading scorer and a Naismith Award candidate, had 15 second-half points and finished with a game-high 20 while also getting seven rebounds. Jackson tied a career best with 19 points. Frease was a force inside, registering a double-double with 12 points and rebounds apiece. Jamel McLean also scored in the double-digits (10) for Xavier, who shot 48.8 percent from the field overall.
 
"I think we just stopped rebounding," said Clark, referring to Xavier's 25-16 boards advantage in the second half. "You knew they were going to make a run, and we just stopped being aggressive. Once you get a lead like that you have to keep pushing and try to expand upon it. And we didn't. We didn't make free throws, we didn't make jump shots, and that hurt us down the stretch."
 
"Since we're so small, we couldn't really be aggressive with the refs calling it close," Clark said. "It was hard for us to fight back."
 
Duquesne shot just 36.2 percent for the game. Monteiro paced the Dukes with 17 points. Clark notched a double-double by scoring 14 and snatching 11 rebounds. Saunders, limited to just 24 minutes due to foul woes, had 11 points and five boards. Sean Johnson (1-for-5 shooting), Eric Evans (2-for-7) and McConnell (2-for-5) all had rough days shooting the ball.
 
Missed free throws again plagued Duquesne. The Dukes, entering play last in the A-10 in free throw percentage and 321st nationally, went 13-of-27 on freebies.
 
"That's every game," said Clark. "We're not getting better at free throws. That's got to change somehow, some way."
 
"I thought we had a great opportunity here that we didn't take advantage of," Everhart said. "It's disappointing as hell, but it's just another league game and we have to get ready for Massachusetts on Wednesday."

CLARK REACHES 1,500 CLUB
After passing Kevin Price to become Duquesne's 10th all-time leading scorer during the St. Bonaventure game, Bill Clark topped the 1,500 career point mark versus the Musketeers. The senior from Redondo Beach, Calif. has improved his scoring average each season on the Bluff. Clark averaged 8.2 points per game as a freshman, 12.9 PPG as a sophomore, 14.1 PPG as a junior and he's averaging 17.3 points this year.

HONORING CHUCK COOPER
A video tribute to Duquesne legend Chuck Cooper was played at half-time. Cooper, who played for the Dukes from 1947-1950, became the first African-American NBA draft pick when the Boston Celtics called his name in the second round in 1950. An All-City player at Westinghouse High School, Cooper originally attended West Virginia State but left to join the Navy toward the end of World War II. Returning to his home town thereafter, Cooper led the Dukes to two appearances in the NIT Tournament, which at the time was on par with the NCAA Tournament.

The tribute during the second annual Chuck Cooper Classic was the culmination of a weekend of homages to the basketball pioneer. Duquesne also dedicated the Chuck Cooper Building, located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Chatham Square, and handed out the inaugural Chuck Cooper Award (honoring a Pittsburgh resident who has contributed to the African American community) to Steelers scout Bill Nunn Jr. The August Wilson Center played host to "Synthesis," an urban soul and jazz concert, as part of the weekend's festivities.

QUOTABLE
"The environment today was incredible. It was an NCAA Tournament-style feel. To have that type of turnout, I think the Duquesne administration has done an amazing job since Greg [Amodio, Duquesne Athletic Director] has been here and it showed today. Our guys were super charged up to play here."
-- Xavier coach Chris Mack on the Consol Energy crowd of 10,509, the largest for a Duquesene home game against an opponent other than Pitt since February 21, 1973, when 12,222 watched the Dukes lose to No.8 Maryland at the Civic Arena

TEAM STATS
FG%
: DUQ 36.2, XAV 48.8
FT%: DUQ 48.1, XAV 73.3
3-PT: DUQ 33.3, XAV 41.2
RBS:  DUQ 32, XAV 41

LEADERS
Scoring: DUQ- Monteiro 17; XAV- Holloway 20
Rebounds: DUQ- Clark 11; XAV- Frease 12
Assists: DUQ- Clark, McConnell, Monteiro 3; XAV- Holloway, Lyons, Taylor 3
Blocks: DUQ- Marhold 2; XAV- Robinson 2
Steals: DUQ- Clark, McConnell 3; XAV- Jackson 2

NEXT UP
The Dukes travel to UMass for a 7 p.m. game Wednesday against the Minutemen. Xavier gets St. Joseph's on the road at the same time Wednesday.

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