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Duncan powers Xavier past Rhode Island

Feb 19, 2008 - 5:28 AM PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (Ticker) -- The only thing that slowed Josh Duncan was foul trouble.

Duncan scored 23 points, including a pair of huge 3-pointers, to help No. 12 Xavier outlast Rhode Island, 81-77, in the Atlantic 10 Conference on Monday night.

B.J. Raymond added 14 points as the Musketeers (22-4, 10-1 A-10) extended their winning streak to eight games and won for the 14th time in the last 15 outings.

Parfait Bitee scored a career-high 25 points and Will Daniels added 23 for the Rams (20-6, 6-5), who suffered their first home loss in 12 games.

Rhode Island has lost 12 consecutive regular-season games to ranked opponents, with it's last win over a Top-25 team coming against Utah in December 1998.

Duncan, the league's reigning Player of the Week, followed up his career-high 25-point effort in Saturday's win over Charlotte with another perfect performance.

The 6-9 senior did not miss, finishing 8-of-8 from the field, including all three shots from the arc, and also was 4-of-4 at the foul line. In his last two games, Duncan is 15-of-15 from the floor.

The only mistake Duncan made against the Rams was picking up his third and fourth fouls early in the second half, forcing him to the bench with Xavier holding a double-digit lead.

Rhode Island took advantage of his absence, ripping off 13 consecutive points to take a 51-50 lead on Daniels' 3-pointer with 13:49 to play.

When Duncan re-entered the game, he restored order for Xavier, which improved to 14-3 overall against the Rams and avenged a loss in last season's A-10 Conference tournament.

After Lamonte Ulmer gave the Rams their last lead at 59-57 with eight minutes to play, Duncan answered with a 3-pointer - his first points of the half - and added another 3-pointer to cap a 13-3 burst and give the Musketeers a 67-60 lead with 3:42 left.

Two free throws by Drew Lavender gave Xavier a seemingly comfortable 73-65 lead with 59 seconds left, but Keith Cothran hit a 3-pointer, Bitee buried a jumper and Ulmer dunked off a steal to cut the deficit to 75-72 with 32 seconds to play.

But after Rhode Island rallied to close within 76-74 on a pair of free throws by Bitee with 25 seconds to play, Xavier converted 5-of-6 from the stripe to salt away the victory.

Jim Baron, the Rams' second-leading scorer, failed to record a field goal and finished with two points for Rhode Island, which lost despite shooting 54 percent (27-of-50) for the game.

Duncan had 15 points, including eight in a 16-2 run, that sparked the Musketeers to a 44-34 halftime lead.