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NOTE: SUNO won 77-74 at Spring Hill on Tuesday . . . Xavier (24-6) will play SUNO (7-19) at 7 p.m. Thursday
Nuggets play Spring Hill-SUNO winner Thursday
March 4, 2008

NEW ORLEANS — The Xavier University of Louisiana women's basketball team won a pair of Gulf Coast Athletic Conference games at The Barn by more than 30 points this season. The first was a 75-43 victory over SUNO on Jan. 10. The other was a 78-43 decision over Spring Hill on Feb. 21.

So guess who's the coming to The Barn this week to play the Gold Nuggets in the quarterfinals of the GCAC Tournament? The winner of Tuesday's first-round game between SUNO and Spring Hill.

The Gold Nuggets will play the Lady Knights or Lady Badgers at 7 p.m. Thursday. Admission will be $6 for adults and $3 for students and children 12 and younger.

   
GCAC TOURNAMENT
First Round — Tuesday, March 4
#10 SUNO 77, #7 Spring Hill 74
#9 Dillard 80, #8 Tougaloo 74

Quarterfinals — Thursday, March 6
#9 Dillard (11-19) at #1 Loyola (24-5), 7 p.m.
#5 LSU-Shreveport (13-14) at #4 William Carey (14-10), 7 p.m.
#10 SUNO (7-19) at #2 Xavier (24-6), 7 p.m. at The Barn
#6 Belhaven (14-14) at #3 Mobile (17-13), 7 p.m.

Semifinals — Saturday, March 8
#9 Dillard-#1 Loyola winner vs. #4 William Carey-#5 LSU-Shreveport winner
#10 SUNO-#2 Xavier winner vs. #3 Mobile-#6 Belhaven winner

Championship — Tuesday, March 11
Semifinal winners

"I'd never guarantee any blowouts," Xavier Coach Bo Browder said. "But those games (against SUNO and Spring Hill) tell me we're capable of playing very well. Our ladies know the importance of stepping up their game in the postseason and leaving it all out on the court."

The Nuggets — 24-6 and No. 24 in the NAIA Division I coaches poll of Feb. 27 — will enter Thursday's game with momentum, having won seven of their last eight regular-season games, including a 67-64 home victory against regular-season champion Loyola which snapped the Wolfpack's winning streak at 16 games and extended Xavier's winning streak at The Barn to 17 games.

By virtue of winning the regular-season championship, Loyola earned one of two automatic bids from the GCAC to the national tournament, which will begin March 19 in Jackson, Tenn. The NAIA awards two automatic bids to each conference with 10 or members. If Loyola wins the GCAC tourney, the runner-up would receive the second automatic bid. That's how Xavier earned the GCAC's second automatic bid in 2007. The Nuggets finished second to Loyola in the regular season and lost 73-68 to the Wolfpack.

"It's important for us to get back to the national tournament," said Browder, who has coached seven of eight Xavier teams to the NAIA tourney, including the past six. "This team deserves it already. But I'd like to see us get there as the 2008 GCAC Tournament champion."

The other first-round game Tuesday will match Dillard at Tougaloo.

Like Xavier's men's team, the Nuggets earned a first-round bye because of their top-six finish in the regular season and secured homecourt advantage for the quarterfinals by finishing in the top four.

Should the Nuggets win Thursday, they would host a semifinal opponent at 7 p.m. Saturday at The Barn. The championship game will be Tuesday, March 11.

Xavier is 3-0 against Spring Hill and 5-0 against SUNO in the GCAC Tournament. The Nuggets, stung by two regular-season losses to SUNO, smacked the Lady Knights 65-46 in the 2007 semifinals at The Barn. Xavier hasn't played Spring Hill in the postseason since a 70-50 victory in the 2002 GCAC quarterfinals.

Xavier swept SUNO during the 2008 GCAC schedule but split two games with Spring Hill. The Lady Badgers won 71-68 on Jan. 5 at Mobile, Ala., in the second conference game for both.

Four-time All-GCAC guard Jarryn Cleaves, a 5-foot-8 senior from Memphis, Tenn., led the Gold Nuggets during the regular season with 13.7 points per game. She is Xavier's career women's leader in 3-point field goals made with 272 and is among the NAIA Division I leaders with 3.3 steals and 2.4 3-point field goals per game.

Erica Turnbull, a senior and a 6-foot forward/center from Baltimore, Md., is a two-time All-GCAC selection who averaged 12.7 points and 5.9 rebounds. She ranks among the national leaders with a .557 field-goal percentage.

Xavier has seven seniors, plus five freshmen who accounted for 26 percent of the Nuggets' regular-season points. Browder started two freshmen, center Johnna Williams (6-0, Prairieville, La.) and guard Shayla Boyd (5-6, Gonzales, La.), in the victory against Loyola this past week.

Highest surviving seeds will host in each round of the tourney.

The Nuggets hold GCAC Tournament records for most championships (nine) and appearances in the finals (15). Xavier defeated Mobile 78-63 for its most recent championship in 2005.

 

 
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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