Xavier hands Duquesne 11th straight loss

Chris Harlan
| Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, 9:21 p.m.

There was a new approach, but the losing streak remains.

Duquesne started three freshmen and brought senior Sean Johnson off the bench in Saturday night's 73-65 loss to Xavier at Consol Energy Center, an effort to accelerate the program's future in the midst of a losing streak that has reached 11 games. This was the first time Derrick Colter, Quevyn Winters and Jeremiah Jones were together in the starting lineup.

The young trio combined for a 21-4 run early in the second to erase Xavier's seven-point halftime lead and build a 10-point advantage. It was a drastic improvement in effort from Wednesday's loss to George Washington. But like other times during this streak, the lead slipped away.

“Our guys really competed tonight, significantly different than the GW game,” Duquesne coach Jim Ferry said. “It was nice to see a young group respond, yet it's still tough.”

Duquesne led, 47-37, when Winters made a layup with 12:54 left. But a 21-4 run by Xavier erased it. The Musketeers switched to a tall lineup and challenged the Dukes frontcourt. The Dukes went more than seven minutes without a field goal.

Semaj Christon and Isaiah Philmore each had 16 for Xavier, and Justin Martin added 15.

“We play well enough in stretches,” Ferry said, “but we still have those stretches where we couldn't score.”

Duquesne (7-16, 0-9) remains last in the 16-team Atlantic 10 with seven games left. Xavier (13-9, 6-3) strengthened its position for the 12-team conference tournament, a destination the Dukes seem likely to miss for the first time since 2006.

Ferry has promoted the younger players, first removing senior Andre Marhold from the starting lineup and now Johnson, a 1,000-point scorer who had started 25 consecutive games since sitting out a contest late last season.

All three freshmen had been key contributors, but they hadn't started together. Winters tied a career high with 19 points, Jones had 11 and Colter added eight.

“The freshmen have been playing really well this year, really hard, really aggressively,” Ferry said. “I just thought it was time to give these guys an opportunity to start together. And at the same time, we're trying to take a little pressure off Sean. ... By no means are we giving up on Sean.”

Marhold had nine points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore Derrick Martin and junior Jerry Jones started alongside the freshmen, though Marhold replaced Martin to begin the second half. Jones had 11 points.

Duquesne led, 14-7, before a 12-0 run by Xavier. The Musketeers held a 33-26 halftime lead.

“I give Duquesne a lot of credit,” Xavier coach Chris Mack said. “When you've lost several games in a row, it's hard to get off the mat and come out with a lot of fight, but they did a really good job to put us on our heels.”

Chris Harlan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com.

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