Boyd's shot rallies Xavier to GCAC tourney title
March 11, 2008
NEW ORLEANS — Freshman guard Shayla Boyd's basket with seven-tenths of a second remaining Tuesday
lifted NAIA No. 24 Xavier University of Louisiana to a 65-64 women's basketball victory
over No. 15 Loyola in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference
Tournament at The Den.
Boyd scored the final six points to rally the second-seeded Gold Nuggets (27-6) from a
64-59 deficit in the final 75 seconds. Boyd was 3-of-3 from the floor in the comeback
after hitting one of her first eight shots.
"I've been hard on Shayla in practice all year," Xavier coach Bo Browder said.
"But every time we play, I tell her to put that behind her and focus in. She has
improved throughout the season. She had a really nice game for us tonight and
stepped up at the end."
Boyd scored the winning points after Loyola's Trenell Smith threw a crosscourt
pass out-of-bounds with 15.8 seconds remaining. After a Xavier timeout, Boyd
dribbled to the frontcourt and passed to Jarryn Cleaves in the right corner.
But Cleaves was covered, and she passed back to Boyd on the left side, who
penetrated before swishing a 12-footer.
"I knew that shot was going in," said Boyd, who received honorable mention on
the Class 5A All-State team her final two years at St. Amant (La.) High School.
"I felt a lot of joy when it did."
Boyd finished with eight points and a game-high three assists. She has started
31 of 33 games for the Nuggets this season and is averaging 6.1 points and 2.1 assists.
"That was a tough shot she hit," Browder said. "She knew she was going to have to
take that shot because (Loyola) wasn't going to let Cleaves take it. I saw
Shayla make shots like that in high school, so I had confidence in her."
"I made a couple of game-winners in high school," Boyd said, "but never in a game
as important as this."
Loyola ended the game the way it did in its 67-64 loss at Xavier on Feb. 28 —
unable to attempt a shot on the final possession.
Cleaves scored 22 points and Tiffany Norris 14 for Xavier, which extended
its winning streak to five games, including two victories against top-seeded
Loyola. The Wolfpack beat Xavier 71-55 at The Den on Jan. 31 the first time
they met this season.
Trenese Smith, the GCAC Player of the Year for the second consecutive season,
had 26 points and 10 rebounds for Loyola. Her twin, Trenell, scored 24 but
also had eight of the Wolfpack's 20 turnovers.
Xavier hit five of its first seven shots to build a 13-6 lead, but the
Wolfpack — with Trenese Smith scoring 15 points and Trenell 12 — rallied to take
a 33-26 halftime lead.
The Nuggets opened the second half with a 9-0 run to take a 35-33 lead,
but the Wolfpack answered with seven consecutive points and did not lose
the lead until Boyd's shot.
Xavier avenged a 73-68 loss at Loyola in the 2007 GCAC championship game.
The Nuggets won the GCAC tourney for a conference-record 10th time and
the third time in Browder's nine seasons as coach.
Both teams already had earned automatic bids to the NAIA Division I National
Tournament, which will begin March 19 at Jackson, Tenn. The NAIA will announce
pairings by 5 p.m. Wednesday.