CINCINNATI -- Xavier couldn't have picked a better game for a record-setting win.
Amber Harris scored 17 points and the Musketeers (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 9 AP) extended their season-opening winning streak to a school-record seven games with a 69-38 victory over city rival Cincinnati on Sunday."That's impressive," said Harris, a fourth-year junior who missed all of last season with a knee injury. "We just played tough defense against them and did what we do."Xavier had been tied for the fastest start in school history with the 2000-01 team, which won a school-record 31 games and knocked Tennessee out of the NCAA tournament."It's a big deal, but we've got to keep playing or it won't mean anything," said sophomore guard Tyeasha Moss, who finished with 14 points and admitted to having extra motivation after losing the last two games in the neighborhood rivalry. Seven miles separate the schools."We have to see them every day," Moss said. "We were more hungry for this game than we've been for any game this year."Freshman guard Katie Rutan added 13 points for the Musketeers, whose press and 1-3-1 zone defense -- featuring the athletic 6-foot-5 Harris at the point -- helped force the Bearcats into a season-high 26 turnovers. That's one more than they committed while losing on Friday to Kentucky, which had first-year Cincinnati coach Jamelle Elliott concerned."At the end of a practice or a game, you want to know that there was some improvement somewhere," the former Connecticut player and assistant coach said. "Today, I'm going to have to sit back and really think about where we got better."Harris at the top of the zone was a new wrinkle for Xavier, coach Kevin McGuff said."It's hard to get the ball around her or over her," said McGuff, whose team plays at No. 22 Michigan State on Wednesday. "We've got a lot more depth than they do, and I think that was a key to the game."Junior guard Shareese Ulis scored 14 points to lead the Bearcats (4-4), who set a season-low in points. Junior guard Carla Jacobs added 10 points.Xavier forced Cincinnati into turnovers on three consecutive possessions and four out of five and converted every mistake during an 11-0 run that gave the Musketeers a 17-10 lead midway through the first half.A 12-0 run in the last 4 minutes gave Xavier a 39-16 lead before Cincinnati senior guard Kahla Roudebush scored right before the buzzer. The Musketeers led by as many as 33 points in the second half.