No. 6 Xavier rolls to move back into tie atop Atlantic 10

CINCINNATI -- Duquesne's reputation as one of the nation's best road team hit a major speed bump Sunday at Xavier.

Ta'Shia Phillips and Amber Harris had double-doubles and the sixth-ranked Musketeers rolled to a 77-51 win over the Dukes to move back into a tie with Temple for first in the Atlantic 10.

The Musketeers played what Phillips and Harris agreed was their best first half of the season to quickly take Duquesne out of its game. The Dukes went into the game with 12 road wins, the most among NCAA Division I teams this season.

"We knew we needed to come out with a lot of energy," Harris said. "We knew they've beaten a lot of good teams on the road, and we didn't want to let them do that. That was our best game since December, but it definitely was our best half of the year."

Phillips had 26 points and 11 rebounds for her 72nd career double-double and 17th of the season. Special Jennings finished with 14 points and a game-high six assists. Harris had her 14th double-double of the season and 54th of her career by halftime and finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Musketeers.

"The coaches just told us to execute the game plan," Phillips said. "We just did what the coaches told us to do."

Xavier coach Kevin McGuff was pleased with his players' focus while picking up their eight consecutive win over the Dukes.

"We did a good job of taking advantage of the areas where we had advantages," McGuff said.

Xavier (23-2, 12-0), which has won the last two conference regular-season championships, and Temple each have one game to play before they meet Sunday in the regular-season finale. The Musketeers have won 13 consecutive games and 29 straight against A-10 teams along with 19 consecutive A-10 home games and 22 overall.

Samantha Pollino scored 11 points for the Dukes (20-7, 7-5), who've lost three straight and four of their last five. Dukes coach Suzie McConnell-Serio knew her team, whose two tallest players are 6-foot-3, would have difficult controlling the 6-6 Phillips and 6-5 Harris. Xavier outscored Duquesne 50-16 in the paint while leading by as many as 35, 75-40, on a conventional three-point play by Shatyra Hawkes with 3:02 left in the game.

"We knew coming in that it would be tough," McConnell-Serio said. "They played very well. We tried to make some adjustments, but (the Dukes) didn't do a lot of the things we wanted them to do. [The Musketeers] are very talented. Special Jennings has developed into a great point guard."

McConnell wasn't comforted by hearing that Xavier considered the game its best of 2011.

"It seems like everybody plays their best game against us lately," she said.

Alex Gensler managed just five points in 19 minutes, 7.8 before the team-high average she took into the game and her second-lowest total of the season. She scored four in Duquesne's season-opening 70-65 win over Lehigh.

Phillips scored 18 points and Xavier led by 20 in an efficient first half during which the Musketeers committed just three personal fouls, one in the first 19 minutes, while holding the Dukes to a season-low for points in a half. Harris had 10 points and 10 rebounds to help Xavier lead 38-18 at halftime.

Xavier was in control from the opening tipoff. The Musketeers never trailed after Tyeasha Moss made a 3-pointer just eight seconds into the game. Duquesne, which previous low scoring half was 20 points twice didn't reach double figures until Kelly Britcher made the team's first 3-pointer with 8:35 left in the first half.