No. 5 Xavier 61, Richmond 52

Xavier entered last season’s Atlantic 10 postseason as the top

seed, only to get bounced in the quarterfinal round. The Musketeers

were not about to let that happen this time around.

Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Amber Harris had 15 points and 11

rebounds to lead No. 5 Xavier to its 16th straight victory

Saturday, a 61-52 win over Richmond in the quarterfinals of the

conference tournament.

“I am glad that it’s over with,” Harris said.

April Phillips added 17 points and Special Jennings scored 10 of

her 12 points in the first half for the Musketeers (25-3). They

will play in a semifinal Sunday against Charlotte, which beat Saint

Joseph’s.

“We had won it two years in a row and played really well in

those tournaments and came in last year and did not give our best

effort,” said Xavier coach Kevin McGuff, the Atlantic 10 Coach of

the Year. “That’s something where we certainly wanted to redeem

ourselves.”

Xavier held a 43-32 rebounding edge and never trailed against

Richmond, leading by 13 in the first half, but saw its lead cut to

41-39 with over 10 minutes remaining.

“They made a little run so we were like ‘OK, let’s just get

together and go out play our game, extend the lead back out to what

it was,”’ said Harris, who scored 11 points in the second half.

The 6-foot-5 junior forward missed the 2008-09 season with a knee

injury.

Brittani Shells, who joined Harris on the All-Conference team,

scored 21 points for the Spiders (19-12). Abby Oliver added 13

points, including two free throws with 4:03 left that pulled the

Spiders to within 47-43, but they got no closer as the Musketeers

took advantage of their size inside to score the next five

points.

“We have outstanding post players, I thought in particular

April Phillips was terrific today,” McGuff said. “She did a great

job around the basket and then with what Amber and Ta’Shia

(Phillips, nine points, 12 rebounds) also added, we had a great

presence around the basket. That was important for us to get the

victory.”

The Musketeers used their inside dominance for a 34-16 advantage

in the paint, which helped make up for their poor shooting from the

3-point (1 for 6) and free throw lines (20 for 32, 62.5

percent).

“They imposed their will and their will is their strength and

their athleticism,” Spiders coach Michael Shafer said. “A shot

goes up and you got five kids crashing the boards and one of them

of 6-5 and one of them is 6-6 and strong, they are going to have a

better chance at it even if you are trying like crazy to box out.

Our kids were trying like crazy to get (rebounds). They were able

to make a few more plays then we were.”

Rachael Bilney added 11 points for the Spiders, who have dropped

seven straight to the Musketeers.The Musketeers held the Spiders to

31 percent shooting (9 for 29) from the field in the first half and

took a 29-21 lead at the break.