March 6, 2011
LOWELL, Mass. - The top-seeded Xavier Musketeers stormed out to a 38-23 halftime lead and never looked back, defeating No. 5 Charlotte, 69-53, in the semifinals of the 2011 Atlantic-10 Women's Basketball Championship at the Tsongas Center. The Musketeers will be seeking their fourth title in five years when they take on the winner of the No. 2 Temple-No. 6 Dayton matchup Monday evening on ESPN2 at 5 p.m.
After the Niners jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, the Musketeers responded with the next 11 points to force a Charlotte timeout with 16:20 left in the first half. Phillips scored six of Xavier's first 11 points, while grabbing two early boards. The break in play did little to stop Phillips early domination, dropping in another two before the first media timeout to put the Musketeers up 13-4.
Epiphany Woodson, who scored the Niners first four points, added two more from the charity stripe to cut the gap to 13-6 following the break in play. Just before the 12:30 mark, Woodson nailed a jumper from the top of the key and then converted a tough layup after being fouled going strong to the hoop on the following possession. Following a successful conversion of the conventional three-point play, Charlotte closed the gap to 15-11.
Jennifer Hailey became only the second Niner to score, converting a mid-range jumper with 10:32 left in the frame to put the score at 17-13. Xavier responded though, going on a 6-0 run with buckets from Amber Harris, Special Jennings and Tyesha Moss to extend the lead to nine, 30-21 with 4:49 to go before halftime.
Moss added a triple at the 1:53 mark, pushing the Musketeers lead to 12, 35-23. Jennings followed suit with a 3-pointer of her own, assisted by Harris, giving Xavier a 15-point advantage heading into the intermission. Phillips, who is averaging 15.3 points per game, finished the first half with 16 points to lead all scorers, while pulling down seven rebounds for the Musketeers. Woodson's early 11 points paced the Niners.
Xavier pushed the lead to 18 early in the second stanza, 46-28, behind four more points from Harris. After shooting only 27.8 percent in the first half, the Niners opened the half making only two of its first 10 attempts.
A Harris tip-in, followed by two made free throws from Charlotte's Jessica Johnson made it a 20-point deficit with 13 minutes left in the contest. Phillips and Harris each added another bucket, giving Harris 15 points and 15 boards, as Xavier took a 52-32 lead into a media timeout at 11:38.
The Niners put together a 5-0 run out of the break, with scores from Woodson and Johnson, to force a Musketeers timeout. Woodson drilled a three out of the break and Charlotte closed the gap to 12 with 8:20 left to play. Two quick layups for Harris though and Xavier extended the lead back to 16 at 56-40.
Jennings fed Phillips down low with a perfect bounce pass that Phillips dropped in with just under 3:30 left in the contest to give Xavier a 61-43 advantage. Phillips added two more from the charity stripe, giving her 22 points and the Musketeers a 20-point lead.
Kendria Holmes knocked down a three from the corner and a jumper from the opposite side to trim the deficit to 66-50 with 1:50 remaining. Each team would add three more points as the game concluded, 69-53.
Harris and Phillips each recorded double-doubles for the Musketeers in the winning effort. Harris tallied 23 points and secured 16 boards, while Phillips contributed 20 points and snared 11 rebounds. Moss also reached double figures for Xavier, adding 11 points.
"They're unbelievable and do a great job in the paint for us," head coach Kevin McGuff said regarding Harris and Phillips. "The rest of the team also got them the ball well throughout the game."
Woodson added nine second-half points and finished the game with 20 to lead the Niners. Amanda Dowe and Jai Forney each had 12 rebounds in the game to pace Charlotte.