No. 5 Xavier 81, Charlotte 61
After a sluggish first half, Xavier's Amber Harris took charge.
Harris grabbed a defensive rebound and went baseline-to-baseline for the layup that gave the fifth-ranked Musketeers the lead for good midway through the second half, and Xavier pulled away for an 81-61 Atlantic 10 win over Charlotte on Wednesday night.
``I was thinking it was time to go,'' said Harris, who scored 14 of her team-high 18 points in the second half. ``Charlotte came out aggressive. We knew they would play hard, and it was time to match their intensity. We had a good first half, and we tried to pick it up in the second half.''
Harris also had 15 rebounds while Ta'Shia Phillips added a double-double with 16 points and 15 boards for the Musketeers, who extended their winning streak to 14 games.
Shannon McCallum scored 22 points and Ashley Spriggs added 13 - nine in the second half - to lead Charlotte (15-12, 8-5 Atlantic 10).
Tyeasha Moss scored 17 points and Katie Rutan added 12, all on 3-pointers, for Xavier (23-3, 13-0), which set a school record for best start in conference play and needs only to win Saturday at Fordham to become the first A-10 team since George Washington in 2006-2007 to finish undefeated in the conference. Xavier's previous best start was 12-0 last season, which was snapped with a loss at Temple.
``We're just going with the wave,'' Harris said. ``We just want to keep getting more wins. Everyone wants the national championship. That's what we're here for.''
The Musketeers - who finished 7-0 in A-10 home games - waited until after the game to cut down the nets in celebration of their fourth regular-season conference championship and second straight. They clinched a tie on Saturday with a 75-41 romp over Massachusetts, but they chose to wait, because they still needed Dayton to beat Temple later that night to make it an outright championship. Coach Kevin McGuff wasn't concerned about jinxing the event.
``We wanted to give them a sense of the journey and the accomplishments along the way,'' McGuff said.
The 49ers tried to make the post-game celebration empty, taking a 51-50 lead on a Spriggs free throw with 11:10 left in the game, but Harris's play sparked a 10-2 run that left Xavier in control.
``I've played with her since we were 13, so I've seen her do that many times,'' Phillips said. ``We were determined. We were very determined not to lose the game.''
Xavier also overcame Charlotte's physical approach to post a 49-34 rebounding advantage.
``We're very used to physical play, but I'm not used to being fronted so often,'' Phillips said. ``It was a little harder getting shoved in the back as well as fronted.''
Phillips scored 11 points in the first half as Xavier opened up a 10-point lead before settling for a 39-36 halftime edge. The 49ers used 3-point shooting to stay in the game, making five in the first half, one short of their single-game season high. They missed all eight of their second-half 3-pointers.