Gold Nuggets' 2nd-half rally falls short at NAIA tourney
For immediate release . . . March 14, 2007
First-half play-by-play and
second-half play-by-play and
final box score.
JACKSON, Tenn. — Carroll College withstood Xavier University of Louisiana's
second-half rally Wednesday to earn a 56-50 women's basketball victory against the Gold Nuggets in
the opening round of the NAIA Division I National Tournament at Oman Arena.
The Helena, Mont., school scored first, never lost the lead and built its advantage
to 20 points early in the second half. But Jarryn Cleaves, Xavier's three-time All-Gulf Coast
Athletic Conference guard, outscored the 11th-ranked Saints 15-4 in the final 7:01
to make things interesting.
What prevented Xavier from turning the rally into a victory was a stretch of nearly
3 1/2 minutes when the Nuggets missed five consecutive shots from the floor, including three
3-pointers, and one free throw.
Cleaves, 0 for 7 from the floor and scoreless in the first half, finished with 18
points and had five assists and five rebounds. She made 4 of 10 3-pointers to
extend her Xavier season record to 88 and become the second Nugget to reach 200
in a career. Cleaves has 201 3-pointers, three less than Courtney Simon's record
set from 1992-96.
Vyaisha Moss, in her first collegiate start, matched her season high of 10 points for Xavier (23-12).
Jolene Fusezy, the most accurate 3-point shooter in NAIA Division I this season, was
6 of 11 from behind the arc and scored 19 points for Carroll (30-4). Amy Brooks had
12 points and 13 rebounds, and Caitlin Courchaine scored 11.
Carroll outshot the Nuggets 48 to 24 percent from the floor and outrebounded them
by 10 to build a 33-17 halftime lead. Sophi Forney's basket with 16:48 remaining gave
the Saints their biggest lead, 42-22, with 16:48 remaining, and another Forney basket
at 10:01 gave Carroll a 52-33 lead.
Soon afterward Cleaves — playing in her home state and the Nuggets' leading scorer for the second consecutive season —
put the team on her back and scored her team's final 15 points. Her sequence:
• A 3-pointer at 7:01 cut the margin to 52-38.
• A 2-pointer at 6:16 made it 52-40.
• A 2-pointer at 2:56 made it 53-42.
• A 2-pointer at 2:11 made it 53-44 and moved the margin
to single digits for the first time in nearly 22 minutes.
• A 3-pointer at 0:59 made it 53-47.
• After Carroll's Brooks scored a basket with 33 seconds remaining
to answer Xavier's 14-1 run, another Cleaves 3-pointer at 0:11 made it 55-50.
Moss started in place of sophomore Rynika Hebert, who suffered a season-ending head
injury Friday during a collision with a teammate at practice. Hebert became the seventh
of 17 players on the Nuggets' preseason roster unable to complete the season because of an
injury. Four of Xavier's five projected starters — all but Cleaves — suffered
torn ACLs and missed a collective 110 games.
Erica Turnbull and Dominee Matthews grabbed eight rebounds apiece to lead Xavier, but the Nuggets'
No. 2-3 scorers this season combined for just nine points after going 4 of 17 from the floor and 1 of 4 from the line.
Xavier was 1 of 6 from the line to set season lows for free throws made and attempted and for accuracy.
Xavier, making its 12th NAIA tourney appearance in its last 13 seasons — the Nuggets did not
compete in 2005-06 because of the effects of Hurricane Katrina — lost in the first round
for the sixth time in its last seven attempts. But this was the Nuggets' smallest losing margin in
the tournament. Their previous 11 losses were by an average of 19.8 points, and only one other time
— a 71-63 second-round loss to Oklahoma Baptist in 1997 — had Xavier lost by less than
Carroll will play Trevecca Nazarene, a 67-53 winner againat Westmont, in the second round at
9 a.m. Friday.