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Rush plays Loyola at The Barn on Wednesday
March 3, 2008

NEW ORLEANS — The Xavier University of Louisiana men's basketball team will try to end a drought and prolong a streak in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament.

First, the drought: Xavier hasn't won the tournament since 1996 and hasn't reached the championship game since then.

Now the streak: The Gold Rush has 18 consecutive victories against Dillard, Loyola and SUNO, its three city rivals from the GCAC. Third-seeded Xavier (22-8) will play sixth-seeded Loyola (16-12) in a quarterfinal game at 7 p.m. Wednesday at The Barn.

Admission will be $6 for adults and $3 for students and children 12 and younger.

   
GCAC TOURNAMENT
First Round — Monday, March 3
#7 William Carey 71, #10 Dillard 58
#9 SUNO (5-19) at #8 Belhaven (15-15), ppd., weather

First Round — Tuesday, March 4
#8 Belhaven 86, #9 SUNO 71

Quarterfinals — Wednesday, March 5
#8 Belhaven (16-15) at #1 LSU-Shreveport (27-2), 7 p.m.
#5 Spring Hill (18-11) at #4 Tougaloo (17-12), 7 p.m.
#7 William Carey (17-14) at #2 Mobile (21-8), 7 p.m.
#6 Loyola (16-12) at #3 Xavier (22-8), 7 p.m. at The Barn

Semifinals — Friday, March 7
#8 Belhaven-#1 LSU-Shreveport winner vs. #4 Tougaloo-#5 Spring Hill winner
#7 William Carey-#2 Mobile winner vs. #3 Xavier-#6 Loyola winner

Championship — Monday, March 10
Semifinal winners

Winning the GCAC Tournament would earn Xavier an automatic bid to the NAIA Division I National Tournament, which will begin March 19 in Kansas City, Mo. The Rush is looking for a fourth consecutive bid to the national tourney, which would extend a school record.

The NAIA awards two automatic bids to the national tourney to each conference with 10 or members. LSU-Shreveport earned the first automatic bid this past week by winning the regular-season championship. If LSUS wins the GCAC tourney, the runner-up would receive the second automatic bid.

The GCAC Tournament begins Monday with a pair of first-round games: Dillard at William Carey and SUNO at Belhaven. Xavier earned a first-round bye because of its top-six finish in the regular season. The Rush secured homecourt advantage for the quarterfinals by finishing in the top four.

Xavier never has played Loyola in the GCAC tourney and will enter the quarterfinals with 11 consecutive victories and a 24-2 series advantage against the Wolfpack. But Loyola hardly was a pushover this season. Xavier led 54-52 at Loyola with 7 minutes remaining before using an 18-4 run to win 77-61 on Jan. 31. This past Thursday (Feb. 28) at The Barn, Loyola led 47-41 with 12 minutes remaining before a 21-4 run rallied the Rush to a 67-62 victory.

Before the 2004-05 season, no GCAC men's team from New Orleans had ever swept its other three city opponents. But Xavier did it for the first time in 2004-05, then did it again in 2006-07 and this season.

Xavier's only two seniors, Mark Stewart and Alfred Williams, are the Rush's leading scorers. Stewart, a 6-foot-1 guard from Destrehan, La., averages 13.5 points and holds school career records for 3-point field goals (288) and free-throw percentage (.844). Williams, a 6-foot-4 forward from Greenville, S.C., averages 11.9 points and a team-best 6.9 rebounds per game. Williams is second on Xavier's career list for 3-point accuracy (.410), and he's shooting a team-best .461 (47-of-102) this season.

Junior Shaun Dumas, a 5-foot-11 guard from New Orleans, averages 9.5 points and a team-leading 4.3 assists and 2.4 steals. A third-team NAIA All-American this past season, Dumas leads the GCAC in steals and ranks 16th in Division I.

Xavier was in the NAIA Division I coaches top 25 all season before a four-game losing streak knocked the Rush out of the rankings this past week. The Rush regained its momentum by beating Loyola, then rallying again in the second half Saturday for a 51-43 victory against Dillard at New Orleans Arena in the Crosstown Classic presented by Siemens.

Xavier has reached 20 victories in all five of Dannton Jackson's seasons as head coach. The Rush's 25 seasons of 20 or more victories are the most in the history of Louisiana collegiate men's basketball.

Highest surviving seeds will host in each round of the tourney. Xavier and second-seeded Mobile are in the same half of the bracket, and the Rush would travel to Mobile for Friday's semifinals if both teams win Wednesday. The championship game will be next Monday (March 10).

LSUS is a two-time defending champion. The Pilots eliminated Xavier in the 2007 semifinals at The Barn, then beat Mobile 82-62 in Shreveport for the title.

 

 
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.

Department of Intercollegiate Athletics
Xavier University of Louisiana
1 Drexel Drive
Campus Box 92
New Orleans, LA 70125
(504) 520-7329 phone
(504) 520-7934 fax

 
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