About Me

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I am a freelance writer. I've covered the Cincinnati Reds, Bengals and others since 1992. I have a background in sales as well. I've sold consumer electronics, advertising and consumer package goods for companies ranging from the now defunct Circuit City to Procter&Gamble. I have worked as a stats operator for Xavier University, the University of Cincinnati, the College of Mount St. Joe and Colerain High School.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Xavier Women Lose Second Straight to Stanford 89-52

Xavier won 25 straight regular season games before bowing to No 3 Duke last Tuesday on the road by a point.

In the rematch of the 2010 NCAA Tournament regional finals with Stanford, the Musketeers weren't close.

Stanford ranked eighth pounded Xavier in Sacremento in spite of A-10 Player of the Week, Amber Harris, who scored 18 points.  Special Jennings scored 12.  Ta'Shia Phillips held her own with a game high 12 rebounds, though she was held to six points.

Xavier shot just 30 percent.  Stanford,  hit 49 percent of its shots.  It was by far the most points allowed by Xavier this season.

Xavier fell to 10-2.

Lyons Returns the Favor and Takes Albany for a Ride in 88-64 Win

Mark Lyons was snowed in. The University of Albany could not fly out.

Lyons from Schnectady, New York which is 20 miles from the New York capital was offered a ride along with teammate, Tu Holloway when Albany decided to take a bus to Cincinnati.

Lyons joined the Great Danes on the 12 hour drive.  Holloway couldn't make the three hour trip to Albany and found another route.  He arrived at 2pm this afternoon after a day of hard travel.  He was visibly tired.

How did Lyons show his gratitude?  He set a career high with six 3-point shots and a team-high 18 points.

"We should have left him in Albany," Great Dane coach Will Brown said.  "Who is going to reimburse me for the meal I bought him at the Olive Garden?"

"I got on my guys for leaving him open but he hit shots right in front of our bench.  My guys said 'coach, he's in another area code'" Brown said.

All five Musketeer starters scored in double figures.  Jamel McLean scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.  Dante Jackson scored 14.  Kenny Frease scored 17 and Holloway had 11 and managed nine assists.

"He played great," Xavier coach Chris Mack said of Holloway.  "Our offense was the best its been all year."

Xavier improves to 8-3 and Albany is now 7-7.

The Great Danes were led by senior guard, Tim Ambrose with 24 points. Logan Aronhalt scored 17 and Mike Black added 11.

Junior forward, Billy Allen, of Hamilton High hit a 3-point shot for Albany.  Allen is the son of former Hamilton Big Blue head coach, Larry Allen, who led Hamilton to the 2004 Ohio State Championship.

Larry Allen was a teammate of former NBA star, Kevin Grevey, in his high school days at Hamilton Taft.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

OchoCinco and Owens Who?

The self described dynamic duo Chad Ochocinco and Terrel Owens were out for the second straight game and for the second straight game the Bengals won.

Owens and Ochocinco were both hurt early in Bengals win over Cleveland last week.

Owens tore his left knee and is out for the season.  Ochocinco was listed as inactive with a sprained ankle.

Jerome Simpson, who was drafted by the Bengals in the second round in the 2008 draft, took over and caught a pair of touchdown passes from Carson Palmer as the Bengals upset the San Diego Charger, 34-20.

San Diego trailed the Kansas City Chiefs by one game starting the day but Kansas City hung a 34-14 loss on the Tennessee Titans while the Bengals downed San Diego.  The Chargers at 8-7 will not make the playoffs this season.

It was a nightmare for the Chargers.  The game started with a temperature of 29 degrees.  Nearly 29 years ago the Chargers were eliminated from a Super Bowl run with a 40-17 loss to the Bengals in a game played with the air temperature at -9 with a wind chill of -59 degrees.

Though the temperature was not as cold the Chargers never warmed up enough to seriously challenge in this game.

Bengals Win Second Straight 34-20

The Cincinnati Bengals spoiled San Diego's playoff drive with its second straight win.

Former Bengal Kelly Washington Catches TD Pass Cin 34 SD 20

Phillip Rivers threw a strike to former Bengal, Kelly Washington for a meaningless touchdown with 1:27 left in the game.

The Chargers went 72 yards in nine plays as the Bengals played off the ball with a big lead.

Two Minute Warning Bengals 34 SD 13

San Diego has the ball and three time outs but trail by three touchdowns.

The Bengals are looking for its second straight win after snapping a 10-game losing streak.

Cincinnati 10 Yard Touchdown Run

Bernard Scott ran the ball in from 10 yards out, his first career rushing touchdown.

The play was the third after forcing a four and out by San Diego.

Bengals Force Three and Out Take Over On Downs at SD 26

Two passes were tipped at the line of scrimmage.

Jerome Simpson Catches 59 Yard Touchdown Pass

Carson Palmer and Jerome Simpson connected on a 59 yard pass play for a touchdown with 6:25 left in the game.

It was Simpson's second of the game and his career.  Chad Ochocinco and Terrel Owens were not available.

Simpson has six catches for 124 yards.

SD 28 Yard Field Goal Cin 20 SD 13

San Diego put together a 47 yard drive after Darren Sproles returned the kickoff 45 yards.

Nat Kaeding kicked a 28-yard field goal with 7:18 left in the game.

Bengals Take a 20-10 Lead

Carson Palmer found Jordan Shipley in the end zone from three yards out.

Clint Stitser converted from placement.

End of Third Quarter Cin 13 SD 10

Ray Maulaluga intercepted Phillip Rivers pass and returned it 46 yards on the last play of the quarter to set the Bengals up at the San Diego 21.

San Diego Scores on 23 Yard TD Run Cin 13 SD 10

Ryan Mathews out of Fresno State, who ran touchdowns against the Cincinnati Bearcats last year, ran the ball in from 23 yards out with 5:45 left in the 3rd quarter.

San Diego drove 86 yards on eight plays on its first possession of the second half.

San Diego on the Board 20 Yard Field Goal Cin 13 SD 3 at the Half

San Diego drove 73 yards in 12 plays but failed from three attempts from the one yard line.

Phillip Rivers completed four passes for 50 yards.  A pass interference against the Bengals Jonathan Joseph gave San Diego a first and goal at the one.  The Bengals held to force the 20 yard field goal by Nate Kaeding.

Cincinnati TD Jerome Simpson First Career Scoring Catch

Jerome Simpson caught a 10-yard pass from Carson Palmer at the corner of the endzone.  San Diego challenged but the ruling on the field was confirmed.

The Bengals drove 59 yards on eight plays after another short San Diego punt.

Clint Stitser missed the extra point but the Bengals lead 13-0.

Bengals Lead 7-0 at the End of the First Quarter

The Bengals have started two drives in San Diego territory and two at their own 40 yard line.

Two fumbles by San Diego have set up the Bengals but they failed to convert a fourth and one at the San Diego 24

Bengals Score First 7-0

Carson Palmer hit Jermaine Gresham with a three-yard pass to put Cincinnati ahead of the San Diego Chargers.

Clint Stitser's extra-point was good.

The Bengals took a short punt at the San Diego 32 and scored in five plays.

Bengals and Chargers in a Rematch of the Freezer Bowl

On January 10, 1982 the Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers played in the AFC title game.

The air temperature that day was -9 degrees.  The wind was blowing at 27 miles an hour bringing the wind chill to -59 degrees as it was measured that day.  With the modern method of calculation it was -37 degrees that day.

The Bengals played in Buffalo the week before winning 28-21 to win the right to freeze that day.  San Diego played a draining overtime game in Miami.  The temperature was 88 degrees that day.  The win allowed them to travel to Cincinnati where the temperature was a whopping 147 degrees colder.

The Bengals won 40-17 to advance to the Superbowl.

Bengals linemen came out with bare arms covered in vasaline.  The beard of QB Dan Fouts of San Diego froze in the first quarter.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Womens College Basketball Grabs the Headlines

Connecticut women's basketball team won its 89th consecutive game against Florida State on Tuesday night.

The 92-63 against a 9-3 Florida State team that populates the last spot in the Top 20, illustrates a dominance that hasn't been seen in any sport by any gender in 40 years.

The UCLA Bruins won 88 straight from 1971-74 with a 7' center from New York City, Lew Alcindor, who is more commonly known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

Connecticut coach, Geno Auriemma uses a similar philosophy to the fabled UCLA coach, John Wooden, the Wizard of Westwood.   Wooden died June 4.  His grandson, Greg, attended Connecticut's record breaking game.

Alcindor's counterpart, Maya Moore, scored a career-high 41 points for the Huskies.

Moore is considered the best player in the country.

The Women's college game doesn't get the attention that the Men's game does but the women are no less dedicated.  It is fun to watch.

I've watched both genders play a lot in the last 20 years.  The Men's game is fast and powerful.  The players are can play above the rim.  While, the male basketball players rely on pure athleticism, the women depend on being fundamentally sound.

It's not that the men don't have the fundamentals but their margin for error is greater because of their physical capabilities.  The women have to be more sound fundamentally to succeed.

Xavier has arguably two of the top three players in the country in 6'6" Amber Harris and 6'6" Ta'Shia Phillips.
Next to Moore this pair from Indianapolis, are the best in the nation for the 4th ranked Musketeers.

It is probably the best kept secret in Cincinnati spectator sports.  I would encourage that true sports fan to take in a game, if you have never seen them play.  Also, catch Connecticut's act when they visit UC on January 29th.  Barring a loss before then, the Huskies will be trying to win for the 99th straight time.

On December 30th, Connecticut plays the last team to beat them, 2nd ranked, Stanford.

If they continue the streak their 100th straight would be against 3rd ranked Duke on Jan 31st.  Duke just ended a 25-game regular season streak by Xavier on Wednesday.

Xavier Women Streak Ends at 25 Fall to Duke 46-45

On the night that the Connecticut Huskie women set a world record winning its 89th straight game, the Xavier Musketeers streak ended at Duke.

The Xavier women, ranked fourth in the Associated Press poll, won 21 straight games last season, then lost a heartbreaker to Stanford in the NCAA regional final.  The Musketeers won the first 10 games this season, extending its regular season win streak to 25.

Amber Harris scored 22 points and gathered 15 rebounds.  Her running mate, Ta'Shia Phillips pulled down 19 rebounds and scored eight points but the squad fell to the Blue Devils, ranked third, by a lone point.

Xavier 38 percent from the floor and held Duke to 26 percent.  They also held a 44-33 rebounding advantage but shot just 1-for-12 from behind the 3-point line.   Both teams had 19 field goals and made six free throws Duke hit 2 of 15 3-point shots and that was the difference in the scoring.

Xavier's downfall was 30 turnovers while the Blue Devils committed just 12.

The Musketeers led by as many as 11 points but Duke scored the last six points in the last 2:11 of the game.

Duke's leading scorer, Jasmine Thomas (16 points), picked up a loose ball and was fouled by Tyeasha Moss with 2.5 seconds left.  Her free throws sunk the Musketeers.

Duke improved to 12-0 while Xavier, who will get a rematch with Stanford a week from tonight, fell to 10-1

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bengal Snap Losing Streak at 10 with 19-17 Win Over Cleveland

Four field goals by Clint Stitser and a touchdown run by Cedric Benson helped Cincinnati end its longest losing streak 19-17.

The Bengals sacked Colt McCoy three times to inhibit the Cleveland Brown offense.

Cleveland scored on its first and last drive but got nothing in between.

The Bengals controlled the clock by running Cedric Benson carried the ball 31 times for 150 yards as Cincinnati held the ball 38 minutes.

Carson Palmer threw just 23 passes.  He completed 14 for 209 yards.  It was the lowest pass attempt total of the season.  Palmer's previous low was 32 attempts last week against Pittsburgh.

Jerome Simpson had two catches for 30 yards.  It was the first catches that he's had since he was a rookie in 2008.  Terrell Owens hurt his left knee on Cincinnati's first series and did not return.

The Bengals hold a 39-36 lead in the series between the two Ohio teams.

Cleveland Touchdown Cincinnati 19 Cleveland 17 2:13 Left

Colt McCoy found Brian Robiskie open for a 46-yard touchdown play to pull Cleveland within two points with 2:22 left in the Battle of Ohio.

Cleveland navigated 88 yards in five plays in 1 minute 53 seconds.

Cincinnati Extends Lead 19-10

Carson Palmer hit Andre Caldwell on a 53-yard pass play to set up the Bengals deep into Cleveland territory.

Runs of nine, four and two yards by Cedric Benson set up Clint Sitser's fourth field goal of 21 yards.

Cincinnati Stops Cleveland to Force a Field Goal Cin 16 Cle 10

Dhani Jones stopped Peyton Hillis for no gain on a 3rd and 1 from the five yard line to force Phil Dawson to kick a 23-yard field goal early in the 4th quarter.

Cincinnati 10 Play Drive Ends in 34 Yard Field Goal 16-7

Clint Stitser kicked his third field goal after the Bengals 10-play drive stalled.

Cedric Benson exceeded 100 yards for the third time this season.  Benson had eight carries on the scoring drive for 37 yards.

Stitser Kicks Second Field Goal Bengals Lead Browns 13-7

Clint Stitser kicked a 39-yard field goal to extend the Bengals lead over Cleveland.

Bengal Lead Browns at the Half 10-7

Cedric Benson scored on an 18-yard run and Clint Stetser kicked a 24-yard field goal as the Cincinnati Bengals took a 10-7 lead over cross-state rivals, the Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland scored on its first drive as Colt McCoy connected with tight end, Robert Royal on a 20-yard play.

Terrel Owens left the game with a strained left knee and it is doubtful that he will return.

Wide Receiver, Jerome Simpson, made his first career catch in the first quarter. Simpson was the Bengals second round pick in the 2008 draft and has been mostly on the inactive list for three seasons.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Xavier Win Skip Prosser Over Wake Forest 83-75

One of Prosser's legacies was present on this night.  David West was inducted along with Prosser into Xavier's Hall of Fame and gave the current Musketeers an inspirational pre-game speech.

An inspired Tu Holloway responded with Xavier's first Triple Double since West turned in one in 2001.

Holloway had career highs with 10 rebounds and 14 assists to compliment his 14 points.  Kenny Frease poured in a career-high 22 points to gain revenge on the Demon Deacons, who beat the Musketeers in double overtime in the first Skip Prosser Classic.  Frease also turned in a double-double with 14 rebounds.

 Prosser coached both teams and was the Wake Forest coach at the time of his death in 2007.

Holloway suffered a cut above his left eye that required stitches at halftime and required a jersey change because of blood on his "52" jersey.

"It's a great feeling," Holloway said.  "Every time I try to do as much as I can."

Freshman J. T Terrell scored 27 points on this night.  Terrell is from North Carolina but did not know Prosser.  He felt the big game none-the-less.

"My teammates set screens to get me opein," said Terrell, who hit 6-of-10 3-point shots.  "I wasn't around when he was here but my coaches were.  I wouldn't call this a rivalry but this game meant a lot to my coaches that knew him.  Since it was a big game to them and we're a family, it was a big game to me."

"It was a very emotional last couple of day," said Chris Mack, the Xavier coach, who played for and coached with Prosser.  Skip meant a lot to so many people."

Wake Forest first year head coach, Jeff Bzdelik, who took over for Prosser's long time friend and fellow assistant at Xavier under Pete Gillen, was disappointed with the loss but got the game's deeper meaning.

"It was an honor for Wake Forest and me personally to honor such a great man," Bzdelik said.

Skip Prosser Gave David West A Chance

The Xavier Musketeers will play the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at 8:00 pm at Xavier's Cintas Center.

The game is the 2nd annual Skip Prosser Classic.

Prosser coached at Xavier under Pete Gillen, who is the color analyst on the contest.  Prosser was the coach that recruited the lightly regarded West from North Carolina when Duke, North Carolina, NC State and Wake Forest all passed on the future 6'8" NBA star.

"Coach Prosser gave me a chance," West said.  "That's all you can ask.  He had a way of building your confidence."

West is a teammate of Chris Paul with the New Orleans Hornets.  Paul played under Prosser for Wake Forest.

"We talk about him all the time," West said.  "One of us will use a saying that coach used and we talk about it and tell stories."

Prosser succeeded Gillen at Xavier then took over the Musteteers in 1994.  After the 2000-2001 season, Prosser took the head coaching job at Wake Forest, hiring current Xavier head coach, Chris Mack and current Xavier assistant, Pat Kelsey.

Prosser died of heart failure in the summer of 2007.

He and West are being inducted into the Xavier Hall of Fame along with Academic All-American tennis player, Lauren Clary.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Terrel Owens Wants the Bengals to Be More Aggressive

Owens made it clear that he was unhappy that the Bengals chose to kick a pair of field goals after getting inside the Saints 20 yardline twice.

"We had some opportunities to win the game.  I felt we needed to score a touchdown on that last drive.  You have to outscore a team like the Saints.  They have a quick strike"I've never lost nine in a row.  Sometimes I feel like I can be part of the solution.  I go with the play that's called.  We're just not getting it done.  I'm definitely not used to it.  It sucks.  Trust me guys are working hard.  I don't know if we're getting out coached.  I don't know what the deal is.  I'm trying to do my part.  For whatever reason, we're not getting it done," Owens said.

"I have no answer for it"

The 37-year old wide receiver caught his 153rd career touchdown pass but wanted the Bengals to use him more and was clearly frustrated.

"I think coming here this year with Chad and the progression of Shipley and Gresh, I feel like we could be more aggressive," Owens continued. 

 "I feel like I present matchup problems.  I know how to play this game.  I've been playing this game for 15 years.  We're not taking advantage.  That's just confidence that I feel in my heart.  I'm not being arrogant or trying to cause problems.  I can take advantage of matchups." offense  I just felt we needed to get a touchdown," Owens said after the Bengals ninth straight loss.

No Brain Play Works For the Saints Against Bengals

The Saints call the play the "no brainer freeze play."

Marvin Lewis showed his team on tape Wednesday how the Saints try to draw young aggressive defensive linemen offside.  The Saints did exactly what they wanted to do.  They acted like a play was coming, moving people around to build tension on the defensive side.  Third year defensive tackle, Pat Sims took the bait and jumped offside.

"We were trying to draw them offside," New Orleans coach Sean Payton said.  "If they move substantially, the we can react.  This happened a few weeks ago.  The worst thing that could happen is we move back five yards and kick the field goal.  Drew Brees did a great job with the snap count and tired to create the illusion we were going for it, when we were really just going to let the time run out."

Sims jumping offside gave the Saints a first and goal at the three with :34 seconds left and enough time to go for the win rather than the tying field goal.

The Bengals found yet another way to lose.  It was the ninth straight blemish on an ugly season.

Marvin Lewis had even warned his team about the play as early as Wednesday

"They were trying to draw us offside.  I showed them that.  We started off with the tape on Wednesday.  It's just pressing.  They're playing their tails off but we're not playing winning football   We can't overcome those mistakes.  We have guys that play great for eight or nine plays then make a mistake at a crucial time.  We have a rookie tight end that makes great plays, then he drops the ball over the middle because he's trying to run before he catches the ball.  We have to keep working and keep trying.

The Bengals could not recover, wasting a good kick off return after the Saints winning score.

They had to burn a timeout earlier in the half because their personnel were unsure of where to line up.  The game ended after a screen play put the Bengals in striking distance, they did not immediately call time out.  
"We had to burn timeouts earlier with guys not sure where to go or injuries.  Probably if I had it to do over again, I would have called a time out.  I wanted to use the clock play to preserve a timeout so we could throw the ball down the middle of the field if we had to.  I wanted to prevent what happened.  Carson saw guys weren't getting lined up and had to call a timeout anyway.  You should be able to get guys lined up and stop the clock with 10 or 11 seconds left," Lewis said.

The game ended when Carson Palmer was sacked.

The Saints Touchdown Ruins the Upset Bid 34-30

New Orleans faced a fourth and three at the Bengals seven yard line with 34 seconds left in the game.

They brought on the field goal unit to go for a tie.  New Orleans tried to entice the Bengals offside but had to call a time out.  They put the offense back on the field.  The Bengals rushed its defenders back on the field.

On a hard count with Saints receiver switching position, Bengal defensive tackle, Pat Sims jumped offside, resulting in a first down at the Bengals three yard line.

Brees found Marques Colston for the winning touchdown.

Xavier Women Defeat Crosstown Rival Cincinnati 69-61

Amber Harris scored 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Xavier outlasted the mascotless University of Cincinnati Bearcats Sunday at UC's 5th/3rd Arena.

Ta'Shia Phillips scored 12 points and pulled in nine rebounds.

The Musketeer women remain perfect on the season at 8-0.

Clint Stitzer Kicks a 47-Yard Field Goal Bengals Lead 30-27

He missed an extra point but has kicked three field goals, replacing the injured Mike Nugent.

The Bengals after eight straight losses are in position to upset New Orleans with 3:23 left in the game.

Carlos Dunlap Sacked Brees to Stop Saints.

The rookie from Florida notched his second sack of the game to force the Saints to punt with 6:16 left in the game.

Quan Cosby returned the punt to the New Orleans 44 yard line to give the Bengals a chance to take its first lead of the game.

Bengals Tie the Saints

Cedric Benson scored from four yards out and Palmer converts a two-point conversion pass to Jermaine Gresham to tie the defending champions with 8:08 left in the game.

The Saints had too many players on the field as the Bengals were punting with 10:20 left.  The Bengals took advantage of their new life to complete the touchdown drive.

Saints Extend the Lead

Drew Brees found Robert Meachem wide open for a 52-yard touchdown pass.

The play increased the reigning champions lead to 27-19 with 12:13 left in the game

Chris Ivory, who played his senior year at Tiffin University after transferring from Washington State has rushed for 128 yards on 12 carries.

Bengal Score Off A Turnover

Cedric Benson scored on a one-yard run with 13:38 left in the game.

Reggie Nelson intercepted a pass by Drew Brees to set up the score.  The Bengals drove 46 yards in seven plays but the extra point left them trailing 20-19.

Terrel Owens Catches 153rd Touchdown Pass Bengals Trail 20-12

Terrel Owens caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Carson Palmer for his 153rd career touchdown reception.

He is tied with Randy Moss for the active career lead.  Clint Stitser, who kicked field goals of 29 and 23 yards in the first half, missed the extra point.

New Orleans drove 66 yards in 11 plays to increase its lead to 20-6 before the Bengals responded with its first touchdown drive.

Bengals Stoned At The Line of Scrimmage Trail at Half 13-6

Cedric Benson was stopped at the line of scrimmage on a fourth and one at the Saints 4-yard line by Roman Harper and Jonathan Vilmer.

The Bengals have been close to the Saints endzone, twice but could only manage a pair of field goals by Clint Stitser, who was selling real estate in Reno, Nevada earlier this season.

Chris Ivory, a rookie out of Tiffin University, scored on a 55-yard run early in the second quarter.

The Saints added a pair of field goals following a sack of  Bengals QB, Carson Palmer with a 13-6 lead.

Bengal vs Saints

Do the Bengals have a prayer?

They won the toss so it won't be a total loss today.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Xavier Women Win A Thriller 69-66 Over USC

Amber Harris hit a contested layup with 38 seconds left and grabbed a crucial rebound to extended  Xavier's winning streak to 22 regular season games.

Xavier's last loss was to Stanford in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament last March.

Harris matched her career high with 28 points.  She also scored 28 nine days ago against Louisville.

Her last two points put Xavier in the lead but they had to survive a shot by USC's Briana Gilbreath with 20 seconds left.  The Trojan's Jackie Corral chased down the rebound but Ashley Corral, couldn't get the follow up to fall with eight seconds left, Harris's grabbed the ball four her 14th rebound to clinch the game.

"It seemed like the ball was up there for a minute.  I just wanted to get that ball. She had a good look at the basket but God was on our side," Harris said.

USC went to his leading scorer, Gilbreath with the game on the line.  Gilbreath a career-high 26 points and had 12 rebounds.

"What a great game by Briana," USC coach Michael Cooper said.  "I would have liked to see her last shot fall but wow, what a game.  Whenever you can take the number four team in the country to the end as under manned and not as tall, you have to be pleased with the effort."

USC fell to 4-3 with two of the losses to top five teams.  They lost to Duke on the road 79-50.

"It was a matter of knocking down shots," Gilbreath said.  "I felt comfortable.  They came into our house last year and that game went to overtime.  It was a great game but we weren't scared."

Xavier is now 7-0 and won its last three by large margins.

"We're still a long way from being the basketball team that we're capable of being," Xavier coach Kevin McGuff said.  "A game like this will help us get there.  I was a great basketball game.  The difference was Ta'Shia (Phillips) and Amber inside."

Phillips scored 20 points and muscled down 16 rebounds.

The Musketeers played its fourth game without outside shooting specialist, Katie Rutan.  Her absence was felt with a 1-for-17 (5.9%)shooting performance from 3-point range.  The Musketeers shot 37.1 percent from that range coming into the contest.

"We miss Katie," Harris said.  "But Tyesha Moss and Special Jennings usually hit three's on a daily basis."

Xavier used its inside game with Harris and Phillips and put USC's post players, Cassie Harberts and Kari LaPlante in foul trouble. LaPlant fouled out and Harberts, who averaged 10 points per game was limited to 26 minutes and finished with four fouls.

USC had its way on the outside shooting 38.1 percent of its 3-point shots.

"We struggled on defense," Harris said.  "All of their points came from the outside."

Xavier Leads 29-28 at the Half

The Xavier Musketeers led by nine with four minutes left but went cold, allowing the USC Trojans to get within a point at the half.

The Musketeers are playing without sophomore 3-point specialist, Katie Rutan for the fourth straight game.

Freshman Ashley Wanninger has moved up in the rotation to give starter, Megan Askew break.

Ta'Shia Phillips leads all scorers with 12 points.  She has pulled down eight rebounds. Amber Harris has eight points and eight rebounds.  She appeared to injure her right wrist, going for a loose ball with eight minutes left but hit a couple shots after that.

USC is led by Junior Briana Gilbreath with nine points and nine rebounds.

Two members of the Tojan front court, Kari LaPlante and Cassie Harberts have three fouls.  Xavier is in good shape with Megan Askew and Special Jennings with just two each.   Phillips has one foul and Harris did not foul in the half.

Xavier Is Pulling Away From Tojans

The Xavier Musketeers are not shooting as well as they normally do against a tough Trojan defense but Amber Harris and Ta'Shia Phillips are controlling the boards.

The Musketeers are starting to get good scoring opportunities and took an 18-11 lead mid-way through the first half.

Xavier Ranked Fourth Take On The Trojans

The University of Southern California Trojans visit the Cintas Center with a 5-2 record.

Michael Cooper's squad is not ranked but is receiving votes in the latest Associated Press poll.  USC boasts six McDonald's All-Americans.  Juniors Ashley Corral, Jackie Gamelos and Briana Gilbreath won the honors along with sophomores Stefanie Gilbreath and Christina Marinacci.  Freshman Cassie Harberts also was honored.

The Trojans were defeated by #5 Duke 75-50 on November 15.

Xavier moved to fourth in both the AP and ESPN/Coaches poll, leaping Tennessee, who suffered a loss to Georgetown 68-59, on November 27 at the Virgin Island's Tournament.

Xavier defeated USC 81-71 last season in overtime at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.