Women's Hoops Reaches No. 7 in AP Poll for First Time

Katie Rutan and the Musketeers are back in action on Wednesday.

Katie Rutan and the Musketeers are back in action on Wednesday.

Feb. 1, 2010

CINCINNATI - The Xavier University women's basketball team has been ranked No. 7 by the Associated Press, as announced by the AP on Monday. The No. 7 ranking is the highest the Musketeers have ever achieved, besting the No. 8 ranking the team held earlier this season. Xavier comes into the week with a 16-3 overall record and a spotless 6-0 mark in Atlantic 10 play.

The ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll currently has the Musketeers ranked No. 10 and that poll will be updated on Tuesday.

"Seeing us ranked seventh certainly comes with a little bit of pride," said junior center Ta'Shia Phillips. "But you have to keep things in perspective and realize that there is always a need to get better."

The Musketeers are in the midst of a seven-game winning streak and are fresh off a 74-49 drubbing of Dayton on Saturday. XU leads the A-10 in seven statistical categories and is ranked in the top-two in 11 different categories. Xavier is also ranked in the top-10 nationally in both 3-point field goal percentage (.391) and rebounding margin (+10.2).

XU, which finished 25-7 overall last season, has been sparked by the return of junior forward Amber Harris. Harris, who was forced to sit out the entire 2008-09 season due to a knee injury, leads the team at 14.6 points per game and is second on the squad at 8.9 rebounds per game. She is also shooting 55 percent on the year, which is the third-highest mark in the conference.

Amber's not (back to where she was two years ago). She knows it; I know it," said head coach Kevin McGuff. "But she has taken a lot of steps in the right direction. When she plays like she is capable of playing, she certainly adds another dimension to our team."

Another key addition has been freshman sharp shooter Katie Rutan. Rutan, a three-time Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week, is third on the team at 10.6 points per game and over 83 percent of her scoring is taken care of from beyond the 3-point arc. She has buried 56 3-point field goals this season and is only four 3-pointers shy of tying Amy Waugh's single-season record for a freshman.



Rutan and sophomore Tyeasha Moss, who are ranked No. 1 and No. 4 respectively in the A-10 in 3-point field goal percentage, help to stretch defenses and open up the paint for XU's formidable frontline.

XU's starting front court is made up of the 6-5 Harris, the 6-6 Ta'Shia Phillips and the 6-0 April Phillips. The trio combines to score 38.7 points and corral 25.2 rebounds per game. The trio is integral in helping Xavier post a field goal percentage defense of .347, which is tops in the league.

"I would say the greatest strength of our team is our balance," said McGuff. "We have good players at each position and that makes us tough to guard when we are playing with great intensity."

Xavier returns to action on Wednesday, February 3 when the team travels to our nation's capital to take on George Washington. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at the Smith Center.