Nuggets win 1st GCAC regular-season title since 2004-05
February 18, 2010
NEW ORLEANS — Marchelle Jones had one of her best
performances of the season and helped the Xavier University of Louisiana women's
basketball team win a championship Thursday.
Jones, a sophomore point guard, had 12 points, four
assists and three steals to help the Gold Nuggets win 50-36 at Loyola and earn
their first Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular-season championship since 2004-05.
Xavier (22-5 overall, 15-0 GCAC) won its 15th in a
row and grabbed the GCAC's first of two automatic bids to the NAIA Division I
National Tournament at Jackson, Tenn. It's the 14th time in 16 seasons that
the Nuggets qualified for nationals.
"Marchelle played like a champion," Xavier Coach Bo
Browder said. "That's why we recruited her."
Jones, a starter in every game this season, scored four
of Xavier's first five points and finished in double figures for the first time
in 18 games. Loyola never caught Xavier after the Nuggets outscored the
Wolfpack 5-0 in the first 6½ minutes.
Xavier led 23-13 at halftime. Loyola cut the margin
to 29-24 on Molly Emig's putback with 13:12 remaining, but SiMon Franklin had
five points in a 9-0 run during the next 6½ minutes. Danielle Jones, Marchelle's
older sister, produced a steal and passed to Franklin for a layup and a 36-24
lead with 7:20 remaining.
"It was an ugly game," Browder said. "Loyola's a good
team. They made us work for everything we got."
Brittany Powell led Xavier with 14 points and nine
rebounds. Franklin scored all seven of her points in the second half after
collecting three fouls in five first-half minutes.
Xavier shot 33.3 percent from the floor but limited
the Wolfpack to 24.4 percent— the eighth time this season a Xavier opponent
shot less than 30. The Nuggets had three more rebounds and the Wolfpack and seven
"Our defense has improved a lot," Powell said.
"We've gelled together. Last year we had a lot of new players, but this year
we really know how to play with each other."
Trenese Smith scored 13 points and Keiva Council 12
for Loyola (16-9, 10-5), the GCAC regular-season champion the past three seasons.
Xavier earned an outright GCAC championship when
second-place LSU-Shreveport lost 59-54 at Tougaloo. The Nuggets lead LSUS by
four games with three conference dates remaining.
Xavier will play its final three regular-season
games at home — beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday against Dillard in the Allstate
Sugar Bowl Crosstown Classic at The Barn — and is trying to become the
second GCAC women's basketball team to finish 18-0 in conference. The
first to do it was Xavier in 1997-98 — Browder's first year at Xavier,
when he was an assistant to Janice Joseph.
"We're chasing history," said Browder.
The Nuggets have won 12 GCAC regular-season
championships, five during Browder's 11 seasons as head coach.