DAYTON, Ohio -- Duquesne pushed Dayton to the brink today -- and then some.
But when it mattered most, when the possessions shifted into the ones that were the most consequential, when the free throws were the ones taken in crunch time, Dayton (12-3, 1-0) made more plays in a 78-72 overtime victory against the Dukes (9-7, 0-2) in an Atlantic 10 Conference game at UD Arena.
Dayton scored the first seven points of overtime to effectively end Duquesne's chances.
Jason Duty had an opportunity to push his team ahead -- and, perhaps provide the game-clinching points -- when he went to the line with 3.5 seconds remaining after drawing a foul as he was attempting a 3-pointer from the corner with his team trailing, 63-62.
Duty, though, made just the first free throw, missing two in a row thereafter.
Dayton's mad dash up the floor in the last few ticks of regulation was empty and the game rolled into overtime.
Damian Saunders led the Dukes with 21 points and 11 rebounds while Chris Johnson paced Dayton with a 26 points and 20 rebounds, both career highs.
This game seemed destined to get to overtime for a long while.
The teams jockeyed through the early part of the second half, with Duquesne punching back and tying it at 39-39 with 14:51 left.
The game was knotted again, 46-46 with 10:55 left when Duquesne got two consecutive steals and run outs -- baskets by Saunders and Melquan Bolding.
It remained nip-and-tuck all through the second half.
It looked as if the Dukes might have their way with the team picked to win the conference in the preseason poll.
Duquesne advanced to a 16-5 lead in the early portion of the first half, but allowed that to slip, as the Flyers sprinted back into it to knot the game at 20-20.
Johnson -- who had 11 points in the first 20 minutes -- drilled a 3-pointer in the waning moments of the first half to give the Flyers a 36-31 halftime advantage.
The Dukes play again on Wednesday night when they host Saint Louis -- and fabled coach Rick Majerus -- in an Atlantic 10 game at 7 p.m. at the Palumbo Center.
Colin Dunlap can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1459.