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Xavier off to 7-0 start for second consecutive season

CINCINNATI -- Xavier was finally tested, and the Musketeers passed.

Amber Harris had 28 points and 14 rebounds, helping No. 4 Xavier hold off Southern California 69-66 on Thursday night.

"As long as we win, there's a lot of value in a game like this," said Xavier coach Kevin McGuff, whose team won its first six games of the season by an average of 29.7 points, 10th-best in the nation.

Ta'Shia Phillips added 20 points and 16 boards for the Musketeers, who improved to 7-0 to match the school record for best start set last season.

Briana Gilbreath hit a jumper with 2:08 left to give USC a 66-63 lead but Harris and Phillips combined for the last six points of the game. Harris made two free throws and converted a layup to put the Musketeers in front, and Phillips scored with four seconds remaining to make it 69-66.

After making the go-ahead shot, Harris grabbed the rebound when Ashley Corral missed a layup on the other end. Harris was fouled and missed the resulting free throw, but Phillips grabbed the rebound and scored.

"I just wanted to get the ball," Harris said of her last rebound. "That ball was up there for [it seemed like] a minute. I had already jumped, because I thought it was coming out, and I got it on the way down."

Gilbreath set career highs with 26 points and four 3-pointers for the Women of Troy (4-3), who shot 35 percent from the field and committed 14 turnovers. She also had 12 rebounds and three steals.

"It was just a matter of knocking down shots," Gilbreath said. "Our coaches always put us in good position."

Corral added 13 points for USC, which just missed its third upset of a ranked team this season. The Women of Troy already have victories over then-No. 22 Gonzaga and then-No. 17 Georgia.

"If ever there would have been a glimmer of hope or a feather in our cap, this is the one," USC coach Michael Cooper said.

Gilbreath and Corral each missed a jumper in the final minute.

Special Jennings had 10 assists and three steals for Xavier, which shot 53 percent from the field in the second half. The Musketeers also outrebounded USC 45-42, helping them overcome a 1-for-17 night from 3-point range.

Xavier led 29-28 at halftime.