Harris and Phillips Lift Women's Hoops Into ELITE EIGHT

Amber Harris and the Musketeers are moving on to the Elite Eight.

Amber Harris and the Musketeers are moving on to the Elite Eight.

March 27, 2010

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SACRAMENTO - The junior tandem of Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips each posted double-doubles to lead the No. 3 seeded Xavier University women's basketball team past No. 7 Gonzaga in the Sacramento Regional Semifinal of the 2010 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship on Saturday evening at the ARCO Arena in Sacramento. With the win, Xavier improves to 30-3 on the season and snaps the Zags' 20-game winning streak. Gonzaga, which ended the Musketeers' 2008-09 season, concludes the campaign with a 29-5 record.

XU advances to the Elite Eight for the second time in school history and will face No. 1 Stanford on Monday at 6:07 PDT. That contest will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Ta'Shia Phillips was a nearly-automatic 10-of-13 from the floor en route to scoring her game-high 22 points. She also hauled in 14 rebounds, including eight on the offensive glass. Phillips has posted four double-doubles in five NCAA Tournament games, and has registered a double-double in all three games this season.

Harris was a force that the Musketeers missed last season against Gonzaga, scoring 14 points and snaring 10 rebounds in 34 minutes of action. Nine of Harris' 10 boards came on the defensive glass.

Freshman guard Katie Rutan scored 15 points and buried four 3-point field goals. She also scored six-straight points during a critical stretch in the second half.

XU led 32-31 at the break and came out like gang busters in the early stages of the second half, jumping out to a 9-0 run over the first 2:30 of the first stanza to take a 41-31 lead at the 17:30 mark. Harris keyed the crucial run with five points and Ta'Shia Phillips capped it with a put back.

Gonzaga would pull back to within four points, 47-43, after Katelan Redmon made a jumper at the 12:40 mark.

However, XU answered with a game-changing 10-1 run over the next 4:10 to take command of the game and never looked back. Rutan nailed a 3-pointer and was fouled on an attempt from beyond the arc on consecutive possessions to key the critical stretch.

The game had a feeling of finality when Ta'Shia Phillips converted on yet another put back at the 3:50 mark, was fouled and nailed the free throw to give XU an insurmountable 17-point lead.

The Musketeers punished GU on the glass, winning the battle of the boards by a 47-to-29 margin. XU outrebounded Gonzaga 28-to-12 in the second half. Xavier also shot a solid 48.3 percent from the floor, including 50 percent (16-of-32) in the second half. The XU defense held GU to just 35.6 percent shooting.

The first half was the definition of nip and tuck, featuring eight ties and six lead changes. No team led by more five points and that came when Harris buried a 3-pointer at the top of the key to give Xavier a 19-14 lead at the 10:50 mark.

The Zags would battle their way back into it though and outscored XU 7-to-1 over the next 2:50 to take a 21-20 lead after Tiffanie Shives nailed a 3-pointer at the eight-minute mark. The Zags shot just 30 percent (3-of-10) from long-range but stayed on the Musketeers' heels by converting on 11 fast break points.

A Rutan 3-pointer at the 3:20 mark bolstered the XU advantage back up to three points, but that was the last bucket XU would connect on and Redmon converted on a put back with 40-seconds to go to pull Gonzaga back within one points, 32-31, at the break.