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Xavier reaches 12-0 in A-10 with easy win over Massachusetts

CINCINNATI -- Knowing it couldn't match up inside, Massachusetts dropped into a zone defense that blanketed Ta'Shia Phillips and Amber Harris -- Xavier's top front-line players -- and left openings on the perimeter.

"That's when you get punished," forward April Phillips said.

Ta'Shia Phillips pulled off her 15th double-double of the season on Saturday, and No. 6 Xavier used its inside-outside balance to pull away 75-41, clinching the Atlantic 10 regular-season title with its 13th straight win.

The Musketeers (22-3, 12-0) extended the third-longest winning streak in school history by featuring their balance and defense. No matter what UMass (10-17, 4-8) did on defense, the Musketeers found a way around it.

"They have a great inside-outside game," UMass coach Marnie Dacko said. "They play beyond their individual differences and they play together as a team. I think we learned something from that."

Especially in the first half. UMass had only 13 points at halftime, the fewest against Xavier in an opening half this season, and shot only 19 percent -- five field goals, five turnovers. As the missed shots multiplied, UMass started forcing wild attempts.

"We came out and we were intimidated," Dacko said. "We weren't aggressive, and they took it to us."

The Musketeers clinched their second straight A-10 title when Temple lost to Dayton 71-63 later in the day. The difference between Xavier's team this season and last is its depth on the perimeter. Tyeasha Moss hit consecutive 3s -- one from the top of the key, the other from the right corner -- and freshman Katie Rutan hit another, sparking an 11-0 spurt that made it 22-6.

Rutan has already set a freshman record for 3s in a season and has 69 overall. Moss and Rutan each made four 3s and finished with 12 points.

"That's exactly what we work on every day -- balance in our offense," said Ta'Shia Phillips, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds. "We knew they were probably going to double down on the post and try to take us away. But we have very apt shooters. They can shoot from wherever they want, from any position, and it just works."

Moss hit two more 3s during a 13-4 run that opened the second half and pushed the lead to 25. Moss was only 1-of-10 from behind the arc in the last two games, scoring a total of seven points.

"I think what makes us a special team is our balance," coach Kevin McGuff said. "Not only do we have a lot of different players that on any given night can lead us in scoring, but more important, we've got inside players that are terrific, and great 3-point shooting. When both of those are working, we're very difficult to play against."

Stephanie Lawrence had nine points for UMass, which shot 26 percent from the field during its 15th straight loss to Xavier.