Harris leads No. 5 Xavier over Delaware St 72-41
CINCINNATI (AP)—A little sloppy. A little tired. Playing its second game in 24 hours, No. 5 Xavier had to get through that blah feeling to get rolling again.
A little bit of Amber Harris was quite enough.
Harris scored 23 points in only 24 minutes on Saturday, and the Musketeers eased their way to their second straight lopsided win, 72-41 over Delaware State.
Xavier (5-0) won for the third time in five days. The Musketeers were coming off a 99-37 win over Troy on Friday afternoon, their most lopsided victory in 28 years. They looked a little off when they took the court, missing easy shots at the outset.
“It’s just about having energy, being ready to play back-to-back,” Harris said.
Coach Kevin McGuff doesn’t accept the two-games-in-two-days excuse for sloppiness.
“And I don’t ever want my team to think that’s OK,” McGuff said. “Our job is to show up and be ready when it’s tipped, to have the right intensity and focus.
“Once we started playing with more intensity, we kind of imposed our will on them and got the game going the way we wanted.”
The Musketeers played both games without top 3-point shooter Katie Rutan, resting a sore left ankle. She’s expected back next week. Xavier plays at home against Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday and against Southern California on Thursday.
“We could give her a little more rest, but I think she’ll play this coming week,” McGuff said.
Xavier’s front-line duo dominated again. Center Ta’Shia Phillips had a career-high 29 points and 18 rebounds against Troy. Harris led the way against Delaware State (1-3), scoring 19 points in the first half.
“They’re special players,” McGuff said. “They play incredibly well together, and that’s what they’re supposed to do. They’re as good as anybody in the country. We need them to be able to do that on a daily basis.”
Junior guard Tyeasha Moss had nine points and seven assists, working in an offense that made the extra pass and finished with 21 assists. Xavier’s backcourt is deeper this season and taking advantage when defenses clamp down inside on Harris and Phillips.
“We have a little bit of everything,” Moss said of the guards. “We have great shooters, great dribblers, great defenders. We have everything we need. We just mesh together.”
Xavier opened the season with three challenging games—at South Carolina and Michigan, followed by Louisville at home last Tuesday. McGuff didn’t get to use his newcomers very much, but gave them plenty of playing time the last two days.
Against Troy, the Musketeers opened with a 24-0 run and didn’t let up, leading 56-13 at halftime. Playing less than 24 hours later, they were a little ragged after pulling ahead of Delaware State 24-9. The Musketeers led 37-17 at the half.
Xavier was at its best to open the second half. Phillips and Harris alternated baskets, Moss hit a 3 and point guard Special Jennings knocked the ball loose and drove for a layup that completed an 11-0 run. Xavier soon rested its starters.