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Loyola defeats Gold Nuggets in GCAC Tournament final
For immediate release . . . March 5, 2007
Box Score

NEW ORLEANS — Trenell Smith had 23 points and six assists Monday to lead NAIA No. 21 Loyola to a 73-68 women's basketball victory against Xavier in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament at The Den.

The Wolfpack (25-8) extended its school-record winning streak to 17 games and won the GCAC Tournament for the first time. Loyola also won its first regular-season championship.

Trenese Smith, Trenell's twin, had 16 points and five steals for Loyola, and Dani Holland and Christine Mainguy scored 13 points apiece. Mainguy grabbed nine rebounds.

Erica Turnbull scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for Xavier (23-11), and Dominee Matthews had 18 points and a career-high 14 rebounds. But the Gold Nuggets' three-time All-GCAC guard, Jarryn Cleaves, did not score for the first time in her career. Cleaves played 31 minutes despite the flu, missed seven shots and committed six turnovers.

Loyola led 35-30 at halftime and never lost the lead in the second half. Xavier's only leads were at 2-0 on Turnbull's basket at 18:59 and 30-28 on Matthews' 3-pointer at 2:12.

Xavier outshot Loyola 46 to 36 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Wolfpack 51-34, but Loyola outscored the Nuggets 20-5 from the line and committed 17 turnovers, 12 fewer than Xavier.

"I take my hat off to Loyola. They've had a great season," Xavier Coach Bo Browder said. "But I also have to tip my hat to the Xavier Gold Nuggets. We lost four starters to torn ACLs, and we battled through many more injuries. Jarryn had the flu tonight. But we kept battling. That's quite an accomplishment for our ladies to face all this adversity yet be able to finish second in the GCAC regular season and tournament and reach the national tournament again."

Both Xavier and Loyola will advance to the NAIA Division I National Tournament at Jackson, Tenn., next week. First-round games in the 32-team event will be played March 14 and 15. Loyola will make its second appearance — the other was in 2005 — and Xavier will make its 12th appearance and sixth in a row. The Nuggets did not field a team in 2005-06 because of the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Tournament seedings and pairings will be announced Wednesday.

 

 
Gulf Coast Athletic Conference
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics

The Xavier Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets compete in Division I of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) as a member of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC). Xavier fields men's and women's teams in basketball, cross country and tennis.

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