55 - 57 Final - 2OT
  for this game

Xavier is A-10 perfect, tops Temple 57-55 in OT

Mar 9, 2010 - 1:38 AM By JOSEPH WHITE AP Sports Writer

UPPER MARLBORO, Md.(AP) -- Xavier's players gathered at midcourt, bouncing with glee on the big basketball logo and giving a most emphatic answer to their own question.

"Who runs this league?" they chanted. "We run it!"

Perfect in the regular season. Perfect in the tournament. The Musketeers are the champions of the Atlantic 10.

Xavier scored the game's first 14 points, blew the lead in the second half and survived overtime Monday in a 57-55 win over Temple, claiming the No. 5 Musketeers' third conference title in four years and an automatic NCAA bid.

"There are certain points where you've got to really sit back and enjoy what you've accomplished, and today is one of those," Xavier coach Kevin McGuff said after the trophy was presented and the nets cut down at the Show Place Arena.

Xavier's 18-game winning streak includes a 14-0 run through the conference regular season and 3-0 in the tournament, joining 2004-05 Temple as the only A-10 teams to make it through both without a blemish.

Still, it wasn't easy. If Xavier had a noticeable flaw over the three days, it was a knack for letting up with a big lead. The Musketeers' usual sharpshooters hit some cold spells, forcing the team to rely on defense and rebounding to stave off the comebacks.

Sure enough, it was a defensive play that ended Monday's game. Tyeasha Moss stayed tight with Shaqwedia Wallace when the Temple guard drove to the basket to try to send the game into a second overtime. Wallace's shot in traffic bounced off the rim as time expired.

Xavier also had a 13-point lead cut to two by Richmond in the quarterfinals and blew an eight-point second-half lead before squeaking by with a two-point win over Charlotte in the semis. The lapses might cost the Musketeers when the NCAA pairings come out next Monday.

"We just didn't shoot it at the same rate this weekend," McGuff said. "As I told them after the game, if we'll continue to compete on the defensive end and the boards, we've got a chance to do something special in March."

Conference player of the year and tournament MVP Amber Harris tied a season high with 23 points, and Ta'Shia Phillips had a season-high 21 rebounds for the Musketeers (27-3), who shot 37 percent and appear in line for a No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Temple (24-8), meanwhile, is poised for an at-large berth. The Owls, seeded third in the A-10, lost for only the second time in 11 games. They were led by 18 points from Wallace, 17 points from Kristen McCarthy and 17 rebounds from Jasmine Stone.

"If we can hang with the No. 5 team in the nation," McCarthy said, "we can hang with anybody."

After looking unbeatable with a 14-0 lead in the first six minutes, Xavier took a lazy shot or two and had the lead cut to six before settling down to take a 32-20 lead at halftime.

The Owls then came out relentless to the start of the second half, holding Xavier without a field goal for the first 5 1/2 minutes and forcing seven turnovers in the first seven minutes. LaKeisha Eaddy pounded her chest after making a 3-pointer that tied the game at 33 with 14:36 to play.

It wasn't until overtime that Temple took its first - and only - lead of the game on Bennett's jumper with 3:52 remaining, but Special Jennings' 3-pointer put Xavier back in front. April Phillips' free throw then made it 57-55 with 2:40 to play.

Then nerves and defense took over. Neither team scored again. Wallace had a shot blocked by Ta'Shia Phillips, but April Phillips rushed an ill-advised shot at the other end to give Temple one last chance. After calling timeout with 5.5 seconds to play, Temple got the ball to Wallace for a final shot that didn't quite find the mark.

Then it was time to break out the chant.

"The A-10 is a terrific conference with great coaches and great players and I think underappreciated nationally," McGuff said. "And for us to go undefeated during the regular season and win the conference tournament says a lot about our players."