PITTSBURGH — Aaron Jackson made five free throws in the final minute while scoring 21 points, and Duquesne held on despite going the final 7:44 without a basket to stun No. 9 Xavier 72-68 on Saturday night and end the Musketeers’ 11-game winning streak.
Bill Clark scored 18 points and hit a series of big shots as Duquesne (15-7, 6-3 in Atlantic 10) opened a 15-point lead at halftime by shooting 81 percent in the first half.
Freshman Melquan Bolding added 12 points in one of Duquesne’s biggest victories since it was a national power in the late 1960s.
B.J. Raymond scored 18 points but Xavier (20-3, 8-1) led only once, at 2-0, in losing for the first time in the conference this season and the first time in seven road games. It was the second time in three seasons the Muskeeters were stunned at Duquesne, but they were not ranked when they lost there 93-91 in 2006-07.
The loss was all the more unexpected because Xavier has been dominating the Atlantic 10, winning its first eight by an average of 18 points, and had won its last 15 games in February, when conference races often are decided.
The upset was Duquesne’s first against a top 10 team since a 91-84 win over then-No. 9 Florida State on Dec. 15, 1992, and ended the Dukes’ 24-game losing streak against ranked teams since they defeated then-No. 16 Xavier on Jan. 25, 1997.
Fans and students rushed the court to celebrate afterward, perhaps because they have had so little to cheer for so long. Until going 17-13 last season, Duquesne hadn’t had a winning season in 14 years.
The Dukes are only two-plus years removed from the on-campus shooting of five players, including Jackson, the only one of the five still on the team. That incident that rocked the school’s downtown Pittsburgh campus and came only months after a long-reeling program finished 3-24 during the worst season in school history.
Clark’s basket with 7:44 remaining gave Duquesne a 61-48 lead, but the Dukes’ final 11 points came at the foul line.
David Theis, only 5-of-14 at the line previously this season, made two key free throws with 46.2 seconds left to make it 66-59 after Jason Love missed a chance to get Xavier closer by making one of three free throws after being fouled behind the arc.
Jackson made five of six at the line during the final 31 seconds to hold off the Musketeers, who got to within 3 at 69-66 on Terrell Holloway’s 3 before Jackson dropped in two free throws a second later. Holloway scored 16 points a game after being held without a basket and Derrick Brown added 12.
Duquesne, which lost to Top 10-ranked Duke and Pitt earlier in the season, went on an 11-0 run started by Damian Saunders’ 3-pointer and ended by Melquan Bolding’s 3 to take a 20-7 lead with 13:26 left in the first half.
The early run gave hope to only the second sellout crowd at Duquesne in 15 years, with the other coming last season against city rival Pittsburgh.
Xavier looked a little flat-footed at the start against Duquesne’s pressure defense, perhaps because the Musketeers were playing their second game in three nights after beating Temple 83-74 on Thursday night. Or maybe it was the Dukes’ ability to repeatedly beat Xavier down the court, frequently creating open lanes to the basket for Jackson or wide-open 3-pointers.
And the Dukes hit them, going 8-of-11 from beyond the arc while making 17 of 21 shots in the first half. They missed more free throw attempts, going 3-of-8, than they did field-goal attempts in the half. They finished by shooting 53.3 percent, 24-of-45.
Xavier went on a 9-1 run to close to within 32-28 on C.J. Anderson’s drive with 5:12 to go.
Rather than folding, which so many Duquesne teams would have done in the past, the Dukes answered by scoring the next 10 points over a span of 2:14 and ended the half with a 15-3 that made it 45-30 at halftime.
Duquesne repeatedly held off the Muskeeters after that, leading 56-41 with 11:39 to play and 62-52 with 5:45 to play.