Ta'Shia Phillips helps Xavier blow out St. Joseph's

PHILADELPHIA -- When the intensity level picked up, so did Xavier's play.

Ta'Shia Phillips had 20 points and 17 rebounds, and No. 8 Xavier overcame a halftime deficit to blow out Saint Joseph's 75-54 on Wednesday afternoon.

The Musketeers (12-2, 2-0 Atlantic 10) trailed 34-30 after Katie Kuester hit a 3-pointer late in the first half then Erin Shields made another early in the second.

"They played a really good first half and we really lacked energy and intensity," Xavier coach Kevin McGuff said. "We got ourselves together at halftime and I was really pleased with how we played in the second half. Once we upped our energy, we got the game under control."

Phillips' size and Tyeasha Moss' finesse allowed Xavier to rally. Phillips first powered down the lane for a layup to pull Xavier within a point. After a turnover, Moss drilled her first of three 3-pointers that put the Musketeers up for good. Moss finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.

The Musketeers shot 56.7 percent from the floor in the second half.

Phillips, who came in ranked second nationally with 12.8 rebounds a game, dominated inside. Stuffing the lane, she and her teammates gave Saint Joseph's no opportunity to build on the momentum of a strong first half.

"It's making sure we're getting plenty of balance on offense and are tenacious on defense, and making sure we communicate and rebound," Phillips said. "That's exactly what we did in the second half. We didn't start out that way, but we got it back. We have so many weapons, so it's making sure that we run the floor."

Forced outside, the Hawks shot just 19.4 percent in the second half. Shields scored 12 points for Saint Joseph's (11-5, 1-0), and Ashley Prim had 11.

Xavier has won three in a row since back-to-back road losses to top-10 teams -- one point at Duke and 37 points at Stanford -- that ended the best start in school history.

Phillips paired with Amber Harris to shut down the lane. Harris was making her second start after returning from a mild concussion suffered in the loss to Duke on Dec. 21.

Harris was limited in the blowout loss at Stanford on Dec. 28, then didn't start Jan. 5 against Missouri. She returned to record 23 points and 11 rebounds in a 63-59 win over Dayton, then added 11 points and 11 rebounds Wednesday.

"Ta'Shia and Amber can really change the game around the basket," McGuff said. "I thought Tyeasha was terrific, too, and had one of her best games of the year."

Moss had just six points in the first half, when Saint Joseph's rallied from an eight-point deficit to take a one-point lead. She found her shooting groove in the second half.

"We came out flat in the first half and needed someone to bring the energy," Moss said. "It was just a matter of who was going to bring it."