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Virginia Commonwealth 70, Duquesne 64

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PITTSBURGH — Virginia Commonwealth were missing leading scorer and rebounder Treveon Graham on Saturday against Duquesne, but the Rams didn’t need him in the long run.

With the 6-foot-6 senior guard on the bench nursing an ankle sprain, his teammates picked up the slack.

Sophomore guard JeQuan Lewis scored 16 points and junior guard Melvin Johnson added 14 to lead No. 17 VCU to a 70-64 Atlantic 10 Conference victory over Duquesne, extending the Rams’ winning streak to 10 games.

Virginia Commonwealth (15-3, 5-0 in the A-10) has won at least 10 games in a row three times in coach Shaka Smart’s six seasons at VCU (12 in 2012-13 and 11 in 2011-12).

Sophomore guard Doug Brooks added 10 points for the Rams.

Earlier Saturday, Smart said Graham appeared healthy enough to play, but a game-time decision had the senior on the sidelines and freshman guard Terry Larrier in the lineup in his place.

Graham’s absence — he scored 26 points in VCU’s come-from-behind, 65-60 victory at Rhode Island on Tuesday — was noticeable, especially in the second half against Duquesne.

Graham sustained the injury against Rhode Island but played through it.

Duquesne (6-10, 1-4) rallied from 14 points down at halftime to nearly win against a nationally ranked team for a second season in a row. The Dukes defeated then-No. 10 Saint Louis, 71-64, on Feb. 27, 2014.

Johnson’s 3-pointer with 57.6 seconds left gave VCU a 69-64 lead after sophomore center Darius Lewis’ dunk at the 2:25 mark pulled Duquesne to within 64-62, but the Rams held on.

Derrick Colter led Duquesne with 14 points.

Virginia Commonwealth, coming off a come-from-behind, 65-60 victory at Rhode Island on Tuesday behind Graham’s 26 points and eight rebounds, is in the midst of a three-game trip that takes the Rams to Saint Louis on Friday night.

Brooks’ 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting led the Rams to a 40-26 halftime lead over Duquesne. The sophomore reserve guard was 2-for-3 from 3-point range and contributed three rebounds.

Duquesne outrebounded VCU in the first half, 22-16, but shot only 1- for-8 from behind the arc compared to 8-for-18 for the Rams.

After Duquesne went in front, 15-9, on freshman guard Eric James’ three-point play, Virginia Commonwealth ran off 11 consecutive points to take a 20-15 lead.

The Rams, who forced nine first-half turnovers, on several occasions held Duquesne scoreless for long periods, extending an 11-point lead in the final 1:58 to 14 at the break.

NOTES: Since joining the A-10 in 2012, Virginia Commonwealth’s 28 conference victories are the most in Division I. … VCU and Duquesne were ranked among the bottom 20 nationally in free-throw percentage, the Rams coming in at 62.1 and the Dukes at 58.8. … Three of Duquesne’s nine losses have come in one-possession games: NJIT (84-81), Penn State (64-62) and Rhode Island (61-60).

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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