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Gold Nuggets rally late to beat LSUS, win GCAC tourney
March 8, 2010

Box score

     NEW ORLEANS — The Xavier University of Louisiana women's basketball team stole this one.
     The Gold Nuggets turned five steals into baskets during a late 13-2 burst Monday that rallied Xavier to a 56-51 victory over LSU-Shreveport in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament at The Barn.
     Xavier (28-5), ranked 20th in the NAIA, improved its winning streak to 21 games — one less than the school record — and extended its conference record of GCAC Tournament championships to 11. The Nuggets won the tournament for the second time in three years.
     But the streak and a record-tying regular season — when Xavier became the second GCAC women's team to finish 18-0 — were in danger of losing some luster when LSUS (23-6) led 46-42 after Whitney Hollins' coast-to-coast basket with 5:33 remaining.
     But a Jazmoné Kelly free throw and a Brittany Powell basket cut the Lady Pilots' lead to 46-45 at 4:27, and then came what Xavier Coach Bo Browder described as "our calling card — our bread and butter."
     The Nuggets produced five steals in the next six LSUS possessions and scored after every steal to take a decisive 56-48 lead with 40 seconds remaining. Kelly's steal at 4:04 — the Nuggets' 500th of the season — led to SiMon Franklin's basket at 3:45 to put Xavier ahead to stay, 47-46.
     "It was nothing I told them," Browder said of his Nuggets. "They got after it late. They knew they'd have to step it up defensively to win the game. That's how we've been winning all year."
     The only score in the Nuggets' late run which didn't follow a turnover was Brandi Young's right-side 3-pointer at 2:12 to make it 52-48. That made it a two-or-more possession game the rest of the way.
     "Coach told me to be confident," Young said of her 3-pointer, just her seventh fo the season and the Nuggets' second of the game after nine consecutive long-range misses. "My defender gave me a lot of room to shoot, so I was confident."
     Kelly had three of the five late steals, and her final one led to her layup and a 56-48 lead with 40 seconds remaining.
     Powell, the GCAC Player of the Year, led Xavier with 19 points, and Kelly had nine. Both grabbed eight rebounds and produced four steals.
     Sharday Cotton, the GCAC Newcomer of the Year, led LSUS with 18 points and 11 rebounds. TiKandis Edwards had eight points and 11 rebounds. Two-time All-GCAC point guard Valerie Huizar had six points and eight assists, but for the third time in as many games against Xavier this season, the GCAC's most accurate free-throw shooter failed to get to the line. She entered the final with a streak of 25 made free throws in a row, including a 16-of-16 performance against SUNO in the quarterfinals.
     "SiMon Franklin played some big-time defense against that point guard in the second half," Browder said.
     LSUS, led by Cotton's 10 points and seven rebounds, led 30-25 at the break. It was just the third time this season Xavier trailed at halftime, but the Nuggets rallied to win all three. The first halftime deficit was in the conference opener at LSUS, when Xavier trailed by eight before winning 48-45. That was the game which started the winning streak.
     "We had been there before," Browder said of the halftime deficit. "We knew going in it would be a war with LSUS. We knew we just had to work harder defensively and get some more stops."
     The game matched NAIA Division I's No. 1 (Xavier) and No. 3 scoring defenses. The Nuggets also rank second in steals per game.
     "This might be my best defense," said Browder, who is 271-94 in 11 seasons at Xavier with five GCAC regular-season championships and four GCAC Tournament titles.
     LSUS, the tournament's No. 2 seed, lost on the road in the championship game for the second straight year. But both the Lady Pilots and Nuggets are headed to Jackson, Tenn., next week with the GCAC's automatic bids to the NAIA Division I National Championship. They'll play first-round games in the 32-team tournament on March 17 or 18.

     Photos by Irving Johnson III   /   click on photos for larger view
The Gold Nuggets celebrate another championship

The Gold Nuggets celebrate another championship.

Brittany Powell Brandi Young

Brittany Powell, left, and Brandi Young.

Jazmoné Kelly SiMon Franklin

Jazmoné Kelly, left, and SiMon Franklin.

The Gold Nuggets with their tournament mementos

The Gold Nuggets with their tournament mementos.

The Gold Nuggets' 11 GCAC Tournament titles
1982    Xavier 88, William Carey 74
1990    Xavier 69, SUNO 56
1994    Xavier 73, Mobile 56
1995    Xavier 66, Mobile 55
1996    Xavier 70, Mobile 56
1997    Xavier 81, Tougaloo 77
1998    Xavier 76, Louisiana College 66
2001    Xavier 49, Dillard 48
2005    Xavier 78, Mobile 63
2008    Xavier 65, Loyola 64
2010    Xavier 56, LSU-Shreveport 51

 

 
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.

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