Cleaves leads Nuggets to another GCAC final
March 8, 2008
NEW ORLEANS — Jarryn Cleaves hit her first five shots and scored a season-high
25 points Saturday to lead NAIA No. 24 Xavier University of Louisiana to a 74-72
women's basketball victory over Mobile in the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Athletic
Conference Tournament at The Barn.
The Gold Nuggets (26-6) advanced to the GCAC final for the 16th time,
which extends their league record, and for the second straight year they'll travel to
Loyola for the championship game. Tip-off will be 7 p.m. Tuesday at The Den.
Regardless of Tuesday's outcome, Xavier clinched the GCAC's second automatic bid to
the NAIA National Tournament by beating Mobile. Loyola earned the first bid by winning the
regular-season championship, and the Wolfpack's qualifying for Tuesday's final assures
that the second bid goes to the other finalist.
Xavier extended its winning streak at The Barn to 19 games and set a school record by
qualifying for the NAIA tourney a seventh consecutive time.
Cleaves, a four-time All-GCAC guard, surpassed 20 points for the fourth time in
seven games and raised her career total to 1,709. She also led Xavier with three
assists and four steals.
Mobile (18-14), the tournament's No. 3 seed, had a chance to send the game into
overtime when Alissa Thompson fouled Lady Rams freshman Lakeela Lowe while missing
a 3-pointer at the buzzer with Xavier leading 74-71. Lowe, a 54-percent shooter
entering the game, missed the first two free throws before making the third.
Erica Turnbull, Xavier's other double-figure scorer, had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Tiffany Norris scored nine points, and Shayla Boyd and Thompson had eight apiece.
Sherri McIntosh led Mobile with 20 points, 16 in the first half. Danielle Goodly
scored 17, Crystal Hutchinson had 15 points and nine rebounds, and Angela Bounds scored 11.
Xavier trailed 41-34 at halftime, and there were eight ties and 11 lead changes before
Thompson's driving layup with 4:44 remaining put the Nuggets ahead to stay at 62-61.
Johnna Williams' basket at 2:50 completed a 9-0 run and gave Xavier a 68-61 lead.
But Mobile rallied, getting six points from Bounds in the final minute to trim
second-seeded Xavier's lead to 73-71 with 17 seconds remaining. Four seconds later,
Norris made the second of two free throws on the Nuggets' final possesion for
Xavier's final point.
Lowe had her chance to tie after rebounding teammate Anna Maddox's 3-point attempt
with four seconds remaining.
Mobile, which has not defeated Xavier at The Barn since 1999, outshot the Nuggets
48 to 44 percent from the floor and outrebounded them 34-31. The Lady Rams committed
24 turnovers, five more than Xavier.
Top-seeded Loyola defeated fourth-seeded William Carey 96-71 in the other