Amber Harris' 23 points, 16 boards help Xavier reach A-10 final

LOWELL, Mass. -- No. 6 Xavier needed a little over a minute to warm up.

That's how long it took the Musketeers to overcome their only deficit in a 69-53 win over Charlotte in the Atlantic 10 semifinals Sunday.

The tandem of forward Amber Harris and center Ta'Shia Phillips overwhelmed the 49ers inside, especially in the second half as Harris scored 16 of her 23 points. Harris also pulled down 16 rebounds and Phillips finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.

"They're unbelievable and do a great job in the paint for us," Xavier coach Kevin McGuff said. "The rest of the team also got them the ball well throughout the game."

Tyeasha Moss had 11 points and Special Jennings led Xavier with five assists as the Musketeers (27-2) won their 17th in a row -- a winning streak that included the entire conference regular-season schedule.

Xavier will play for its fourth A10 title in five years Monday night against Dayton (21-10), which upset Temple 75-67 in the other semifinal.

"We play anybody, anytime anywhere," Phillips said. "Whoever comes out, we're looking forward to tomorrow."

Moss' 3-pointer cut Charlotte's only lead to 4-3 and Phillips added a jumper to put Xavier ahead for good 1:20 into the game. Charlotte stayed fairly close until the closing minutes of the first half and early in the second, when the Musketeers pulled away with a 12-1 run.

Charlotte coach Karen Aston said the 49ers had a big enough challenge in stopping the 6-foot-5 Harris and 6-6 Phillips, but couldn't contain the rest of the Musketeers, either.

"It would be a different game plan against them if the other players couldn't step up," Aston said. "I think that's where they've grown as a basketball team throughout the last year or two. Their guard play has become so confident that it's a pick your poison kind of thing."

Epiphany Wilson led Charlotte (23-9) with 20 points. Amanda Dowe and Jai Forney had 12 rebounds for the 49ers, who struggled against the Musketeers' bigger lineup. Charlotte outrebounded Xavier 55-41, but 25 of those rebounds came on offense as the 49ers made just 21 of 74 shots.

Moss and Jennings hit back-to-back 3-pointers as the Musketeers closed the first half on an 8-0 run, then opened the second with quick jumpers by Megan Askew and Harris for a 42-23 lead.

"It's going to be a tough challenge for anybody to beat them when the perimeter kids are making shots," Aston said. "They're a terrific basketball team."

Charlotte went without a field goal from Johnson's jumper on a fast break with 2:58 left in the first half until Kendria Holmes hit from in the lane with 16:58 left in the game, ending a 12-1 run by Xavier. The Musketeers continued to pull away, opening the second half 6 for 12 from the floor while the 49ers were just 3 of 15.

Charlotte got within 52-40 on a 3-pointer by Wilson -- the 49ers' first from beyond the arc in the game -- but the Musketeers went right back to Harris for consecutive layups, then a free throw to extend the lead to 57-40.