PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Seldon Jefferson and Zain Shaw each scored 24 points to lead West Virginia to an 88-76 Atlantic 10 win over Duquesne Tuesday night.

The Mountaineers (13-12 and 7-9) avoided falling into the qualifying game between the bottom two teams in the conference tournament that begins Saturday. Duquesne's loss forces the team (9-17 and 5-11) into the preliminary game against last-place Rhode Island.

Jefferson's points were a career best, topping the 22 the sophomore guard scored against Massachusetts on Jan. 27. Shaw fell two points short of his career high.

West Virginia went on an 18-6 run in the first half with Jefferson scoring the last 12 points. Niksa Tarle scored four points for Duquesne but the Mountaineers answered with 13 consecutive points and led 46-32 at the half.

Duquesne got within eight points with 43 seconds left in the game but the Mountaineers made 12 of 16 free throws down the stretch to seal the win. West Virginia has won 20 of its last 25 games against Duquesne.

Damian Owens had 18 points, 14 rebounds and six assists for the Mountaineers. The rebounds were a season high for the freshman, who grabbed 13 against Ohio University last Dec. 20. Brent Solheim scored 14 points.

Tom Pipkins led Duquesne with 22 points and Kevin Price scored 16 with nine rebounds. Kenya Hunter and Bert Seay each scored ten. Seay, one of the seniors playing his last home game, made his first collegiate start.

West Virginia also guaranteed itself a non-losing season. The Mountaineers have not finished below .500 since they went 12-16 in 1977-78. Coach Gale Catlett has never had a losing record in 17 seasons at West Virginia.