UPPER MARLBORO, Md. -- On a day when the offense generated its fewest points of the season, Xavier's hopes of an undefeated run through the Atlantic 10 stayed alive because of its tenacity on the boards.
Ta'Shia Phillips had 11 points and 14 rebounds -- eight offensive -- and No. 5 Xavier beat Charlotte 51-49 on Sunday in the conference tournament semifinals.
Tyeasha Moss scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half for the Musketeers (26-3), who have won 17 straight games -- this time by outrebounding the 49ers 45-34. They shot just 32.7 percent from the field but still ended Charlotte's bid to win back-to-back tournaments.
Xavier will face Temple for the title on Monday.
"The key for us today was to stay with our defense and our rebounding," said Xavier coach Kevin McGuff, the Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year. "We didn't make as many shots as we normally do, but we can win like we did today with great defense and rebounding."
Tied at 21-all after the first half, Xavier opened a 36-28 lead with 10:45 remaining. The 49ers countered with a 12-2 run, taking a 40-38 lead on Shannon McCallum's 3-pointer with 6:12 left, but the veteran Musketeers countered with their own 9-0 run.
"I just said, 'Let's just stay together, keep our composure,'" said A-10 Player of the Year Amber Harris, who faced constant double teams and finished with 10 points. "Go out there and try to play with intensity, because they came out with a lot of energy so we just have to try and match their energy."
Phillips started the decisive run for the Musketeers with a putback and Moss gave them the lead for good with a 3-pointer from the left wing.
"Ta'Shia is the difference to me in their team," said Charlotte coach Karen Aston. "You do all this work and you make them take a shot and she cleans it all up. I think she is the X factor. We just couldn't get her off the boards."
Aysha Jones finished with 18 points, including a 3-pointer as time expired, and Shannon McCallum added 16 points for Charlotte (17-13).
After Jones made four straight free throws to pull the 49ers to within 49-46, the Musketeers failed to score on consecutive possessions. McCallum missed a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left and Special Jennings hit two free throws with 2.6 seconds left to secure the win.
"We gave ourselves a chance to win the game and that's all you can ask out of players," said Aston, adding that her squad learned a lot from their 81-61 loss at Xavier on Feb. 24.
"They are really good basketball team. They have a chance to do a lot in postseason play, there is no question."
Despite making only 2 of 13 3-point attempts and 3 for 19 through two rounds of the tournament, the Musketeers are poised to win their third conference tournament in four years.
"It would mean a lot," said Harris of the potential title and undefeated run. "Everyone wants to win it, but I feel like this is our year."