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Gold Nuggets' 2nd-half rally falls short at NAIA tourney
For immediate release . . . March 14, 2007
     First-half play-by-play and box score; 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 10 points.

Carroll will play Trevecca Nazarene, a 67-53 winner againat Westmont, in the second round at 9 a.m. Friday.

 

 
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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New Orleans, LA 70125
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