Stewart ties XU record, leads Rush to final
March 6, 2008
MOBILE, Ala. — Mark Stewart scored a career-high 33 points Friday, including a
school-record-tying eight 3-pointers, to lead Xavier University of
Louisiana to a 68-57 men's basketball victory over NAIA No. 16 Mobile in the
semifinals of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Gold Rush (24-8) advanced to the final for the first time since 1996 and
will visit two-time defending champion LSU-Shreveport (29-2) at 7 p.m. Monday in the
title game. Fourth-ranked LSUS, the tournament's top seed, defeated Spring Hill 90-68
in Shreveport in the other semifinal.
Regardless of Monday's outcome, Xavier clinched the GCAC's second automatic bid to the
NAIA National Tournament by beating Mobile. LSUS earned the first bid by winning the
regular-season championship, and the Pilots' appearance in Monday's final assures
that the second bid will go to the other finalist.
It will be Xavier's fourth consecutive appearance at the NAIA nationals, which
extends a school record. That tournament will begin March 19 at Kansas City, Mo.
Stewart scored 13 points, including four 3-pointers, during a 16-0 first-half run
which put Xavier ahead to stay. The Rush led 33-21 at halftime and twice led by
15 points during the second half.
Stewart, a two-time All-GCAC guard from Destrehan, La., broke out of a 9-of-43
slump from 3-point range during the previous six games. Against Mobile he was 8-of-13
from behind the arc to tie the Xavier record for 3-pointers made set by Percy Bland
against Louisiana College on Feb. 23, 1989.
Kelechi Okoroha had nine points and six rebounds for Xavier, and Shaun Dumas had
seven points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals.
Robert Jones had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Walter Fitzgerald scored 15 for
Mobile (22-9), whose seven-game winning streak ended. The Rams were 2-0 against
Xavier during the regular season.
Xavier outshot the Rams 48 to 44 percent from the floor and outrebounded them 32-26.
Olumide Olafioye led the Rush with a career-high seven rebounds.
The Rush beat SUNO 81-66 in 1996 in its most recent appearance in the GCAC final.