for this game

Phillips leads No. 6 Xavier past Duquesne 74-55

Feb 13, 2010 - 10:03 PM PITTSBURGH(AP) -- Xavier used its superior size and rebounding to show it was clearly the class of the Atlantic 10.

Ta'Shia Phillips led three Xavier players with 18 points and added a game-high 14 rebounds to help the sixth-ranked Musketeers win their 11th consecutive game with a 74-55 victory over Duquesne on Saturday.

Special Jennings tied a career-high in points and Amber Harris added 12 rebounds for Xavier (20-3, 10-0 Atlantic-10), which took a two-game lead in the conference standings with the victory against its closest competitor.

"What we had focused on all week was that they could possibly tie us if they won," said Phillips, the conference's leading rebounder. "We strived to set ourselves apart by winning this game."

Alex Gensler had 15 points and Samantha Pollino 14 for the Dukes (18-7, 8-2), who had a four-game winning streak snapped.

Led by the 6-foot-5 Harris and the 6-6 Phillips - Duquesne has no starters taller than 6 feet - Xavier held a 46-21 advantage in rebounding.

"That's typical for our team; we emphasize defense and rebounding," Phillips said. "Considering our size, that's definitely something we should be doing on an every-game basis."

Xavier leads the conference and came into the game ranked seventh nationally in rebounding margin (plus-10.7).

The Musketeers, who have their highest ranking in school history, clinched their sixth straight season of at least 20 wins. They have won 23 of their past 24 conference games.

"They just have such a presence inside with Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips, we knew we had to do all we could do to contain them," Dukes coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. "We did that, and then Special has a career game against us. It's pick your poison with this team."

Gensler hit a jumper to account for the game's first points but Duquesne never had another lead in the contest. The game was tied five times - as late as 39-39 four minutes into the second half after a 12-2 Dukes run.

But the Musketeers closed the game on an 17-3 run after Duquesne pulled to within 57-52 with 8:19 to play.

"This is the No. 6 team in country, and we played with them for 30 minutes," McConnell-Serio said. "They wore us down. We couldn't make any shots. We fought hard. I couldn't be more proud of the effort our players made."

Xavier, which has won eight in a row against Duquesne, leads the Atlantic 10 and ranked 15th in the nation in opponents' field goal percentage. The Dukes shot only 36.4 percent from the field Saturday.

"What makes our team special is balance," Musketeers coach Kevin McGuff said. "On any given night, six or seven people can lead us in scoring.

"Certainly, today we were great around the basket, but we've also got some kids who can make 3s."