8:00 PM ET, December 9, 2010
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Xavier coach Kevin McGuff knows his team is going to get everyone's best shot and he thinks more balanced scoring will make the Musketeers better in the long run.Senior guard Megan Askew scored a career-high 17 points and unbeaten Xavier (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) held off Middle Tennessee State 65-52 on Thursday night to extend the best start in school history."I'm really proud of Megan," McGuff said. "She played with great energy and gave us just a huge boost on both ends of the floor. She's got a lot of talent, and it's really fun see to her start to realize that talent. She's certainly a big part of what we're doing right now."Special Jennings added 14 points for the Musketeers (9-0), who have their highest ranking ever for the second straight week.Xavier's All-America senior post players, 6-foot-6 Ty'Shia Phillips and 6-5 Amber Harris, were averaging 35 points combined coming in, but together they managed only five first-half points. Each picked up three fouls before halftime, too.Phillips still ended up with 11 points and 13 rebounds, and Harris hit two big baskets in the final 3:42 to finish with 10 points.Tyeasha Moss also had 10 points for Xavier, still playing without injured Katie Rutan, its top 3-point shooter.Ebony Rowe led the Blue Raiders (6-3) with 13 points, and fellow freshman Jordyn Luffman scored 10. Middle Tennessee cut a 19-point second-half deficit to 60-52 on freshman Keke Stewart's 3-pointer with 3:26 left before Jennings' three-point play stretched it back to double digits."It's something our team is having to deal with on a nightly basis, is taking everyone's best shot," McGuff said. "It's part of the responsibility of having the success we've been having. It's a great opportunity to continue to learn and grow through some of these moments."Phillips, with only three first-half points, scored four of Xavier's six straight points out of the gate in the second half to give the Musketeers their first double-digit lead, 32-21.Xavier went on an 11-2 run, with two baskets from Phillips, to stretch its advantage to 51-32 with 8:33 to play on Lynette Holmes' baseline jumper."Middle Tennessee was more the aggressor in the first half, and we just didn't play with a sense of urgency and aggressiveness that makes us a special team," McGuff said. "Coming out of halftime, I thought we kind of took control of the game by playing more aggressively."MTSU, which was 1 of 15 on 3-pointers in the first half, nailed four 3s between 8:10 and 3:26 to cut it to 60-52. Anne Marie Lanning hit two from long range.But Jennings' three-point play pushed it back to double digits with 3:09 left, and Harris hit a turnaround shot inside for the final margin.Askew was 6 of 8 from the field, made her only 3-point attempt and went 4 for 4 at the foul line. She sank a 3 with 4:49 left, then had a steal and two free throws at 4:39 for a 58-44 lead."Pushing the ball when we're in transition and moving the ball up and down the court is probably when I feel like I'm at my best," Askew said. "My teammates were getting me the ball and they had confidence in me, and when I feel that, I hit."Phillips picked up her third foul 2:26 before intermission, just after the Blue Raiders trimmed a nine-point deficit to 22-19 on Tina Stewart's free throws.Harris, averaging an Atlantic 10-best 21 points per game, hit her first basket for a 26-21 Musketeers lead. But Keke Stewart took a charge for Harris' third foul 36.1 seconds before halftime.Askew, who had been averaging seven points a game, scored 10 in the first half for the Musketeers. Her drives helped push Xavier out to a 14-5 lead."When we watched on film it didn't seem like she created that much for herself," Lanning said. "I was somewhat surprised and so were the other girls who guarded her. She's a versatile player. She can post up and she can drive and then she knocked down a big 3 for them."Moss and Jennings each hit a 3-pointer in the first 6 1/2 minutes as the Musketeers opened 2 of 3 from behind the arc while MTSU went 0 for 9."That was the game plan and we talked about it, and unfortunately we guards didn't come out and execute the game plan," Lanning said. "I know we're going to have to get in the gym and spend some extra time on shooting."The Blue Raiders missed their first 13 attempts from 3-point range, finally hitting on Tina Stewart's 3 off the glass to cut it to 20-15.MTSU outrebounded the taller Musketeers in the first half, 21-20."Harris made some shots nobody could stop and Phillips is able to get in the paint and plant herself and it's tough on anybody's team to keep her out," MTSU coach Rick Insell said. "I thought our kids fought. I was proud of that."
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Team Stat Comparison
|FG Made-Attempted||24-63 (.381)||17-58 (.293)|
|3P Made-Attempted||4-10 (.400)||6-30 (.200)|
|FT Made-Attempted||13-16 (.813)||12-18 (.667)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||17 (0/0)||15 (0/0)|