Xavier Vying for Sixth A-10 Tournament Title March 4-7

2011 A-10 Defensive Player of the Year Ta'Shia Phillips after last year's conference championship title game

2011 A-10 Defensive Player of the Year Ta'Shia Phillips after last year's conference championship title game

March 2, 2011

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CINCINNATI - After posting an Atlantic 10-record back-to-back undefeated seasons in conference play, the Xavier women's basketball team is looking to defend its A-10 Tournament title beginning Saturday, March 5 in Lowell, Mass., at The Tsongas Center. The top-seeded Musketeers will square off against the winner of the matchup between #8 Saint Joseph's and #9 La Salle at 12 p.m. Saturday in the quarterfinals of the 2011 A-10 Championship.

About the Musketeers
No. 6/6 Xavier (25-2, 14-0 A-10) claimed its third-straight Atlantic 10 Regular Season title Sunday with a 73-66 win at Temple and became the first team to ever post consecutive undefeated conference seasons in league history. As a team, XU leads the Atlantic 10 with a .464 (8th NCAA) field goal percentage and also ranks first in scoring margin (+19.4 - 10th NCAA), field goal percentage defense (.340 - 8th NCAA), rebounding margin (+9.5 - 8th NCAA), blocked shots (4.8), assists (17.2 - 11th NCAA), assist/turnover ratio (1.1 - 12th NCAA), defensive rebounds (30.0) and attendance (2,470).

Redshirt senior Amber Harris collected her fifth A-10 Player of the Week award on Monday and she is currently leading the team and ranks third in the conference with 18.9 ppg. She is averaging a double-double, with 10.1 rpg., as is senior Ta’Shia Phillips with 15.4 ppg. and a league-leading 12.4 rpg. (2nd NCAA). Phillips’ A-10-best .604 field goal percentage is the third-highest in the nation and her 18 double-doubles on the season is fourth most in the nation. Senior Special Jennings dishes out a conference-high 5.1 apg. and her 2.2 assist/turnover ratio is also tops in the league (13th NCAA). Sophomore Katie Rutan’s .413 three-point FG% ranks fourth among A-10 players.



Scouting Saint Joseph’s
Eighth-seeded Saint Joseph’s (18-10, 8-6 A-10) finished the regular season winning six of its last seven games, with the lone loss coming to No. 2 Temple - a three-point, 52-49 setback on Feb. 23. As a team, the Hawks boast the league’s best three-point FG% defense at .285. SJU also ranks third in field goal percentage (.422) and assist/turnover ratio (1.0).

The Hawks are led by Michelle Baker who averages 12.4 ppg. and Katie Kuester with 10.4 ppg. SJU’s leading rebounder is Kelly Cavallo at 7.3 rpg. (10th A-10) while Ashley Prim’s assist/turnover ratio is third-best in the conference (1.9). Kuester also holds the A-10’s fourth-best FT% (.836) and Samira Van Grinsven tallies 1.6 bpg. (3rd A-10).

Scouting La Salle
Ninth-seeded La Salle (10-19, 6-8 A-10) picked up a tough road win at Massachusetts, 67-63, on Saturday to close out the regular season. The Explorers have gone 2-3 in their last five games, including an 85-84 win over Charlotte on Feb. 16. LAS has the second-best free throw percentage in the conference (.741) and the Explorers also rank fourth in turnover margin (+1.5) and fifth in steals (8.9).

La Salle is led by Ashley Gale with 18.6 ppg. (4th A-10) along with Alexis Scott who averages 11.2 ppg. Jess Koci is the Explorers’ leading rebounder with 7.7 boards per contest, which is fifth in the league, While Michea Bryant dishes out 3.4 apg. Gale also leads the A-10 in steals (3.1) and three-point field goals made (3.2).

Last Time Out
The Musketeers had three players score in double figures Sunday as XU claimed the A-10 Regular Season title with a 73-66 win at Temple. Redshirt senior Amber Harris led all scorers with 26 points and grabbed 12 rebounds while senior Ta’Shia Phillips also posted a double-double with 18 points and a game-high 15 boards. Sophomore Katie Rutan chipped in 11 points on a perfect night as she was 3-of-3 from long range and 2-of-2 from the line.

The Series
Saint Joseph’s and Xavier have previously met 23 times with XU holding the 14-9 advantage in the series. Earlier this season the Musketeers picked up a 75-54 win over the Hawks on Jan. 12 in Philadelphia. XU is 3-3 all-time against SJU in the tourney and the two last met in postseason play in the quarterfinal round of the 2008 A-10 Championship with the Musketeers prevailing, 74-52.

Xavier holds a 24-8 all-time advantage in the series against La Salle, including a 102-51 win over the Explorers in Cincinnati on Feb. 1. The two have previously met one time the A-10 tournament, a quarterfinal matchup in the 2003 Atlantic 10 Championship. XU came away with the 74-58 win.

Musketeers in the A-10 Championship
Xavier is making its 16th appearance in the Atlantic Championship, having made the postseason tournament every season the team has been a part of the league. The Musketeers boast five tournament titles - the most among active teams and second only to former member Penn State which won six titles during its A-10 tenure 1983-1991. Xavier is looking for its fourth tourney title in the last five years (2010, 2008, 2007). XU holds an all-time record of 25-10 (.714) in the championship, including a 10-4 record in quarterfinal contests, a 6-4 mark in semifinal games and a 6-1 record in finals matchups.

All-League Honors
Redshirt senior forward Amber Harris was named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year and senior center Ta’Shia Phillips was named A-10 Defensive Player of the Year for the second straight season as the conference office announced all-league on honors on Wednesday afternoon. Harris also makes her fourth appearance on the All-Conference First Team, only the third player ever to accomplish that feat in A-10 history (Suzie McConnell, Penn State 1984-88 and Korie Hlede, Duquesne 1994-98). Phillips was named to the All-Conference First Team and All-Defensive Team for the third time in her career while senior guard Special Jennings earned mention on the Third Team.