Gold Rush reach 25 victories for first time since 1983-84
February 22, 2011
NEW ORLEANS — This time the game, and the
25th victory, did not slip away.
Led by Kevin Miller's 10 points and Anthony Simmons'
10 rebounds, Xavier University of Louisiana led from start to finish Tuesday
in a 56-51 men's basketball victory against St. Thomas (Texas).
The Gold Rush (25-4), ranked 17th in NAIA Division I,
bounced back from a 55-54 closing-seconds loss Saturday to SUNO. The Celts
(13-12) scored 10 points in the final 2:39, but it wasn't enough to catch Xavier,
which never lost the lead after the opening possession and built 17-point leads
in both halves.
"I thought our focus was better tonight," eighth-year
XU Coach Dannton Jackson said. "We wanted to start strongly and not create the
problems we had Saturday against SUNO. For the most part we did that. We got
some good looks at the basket and did a good job on the boards."
Xavier reached 25 victories for the first time since
1983-84 (27-5) and the fifth time in the program's illustrious history. XU's
men were 29-2 in 1981-82, 29-0 in 1940-41 and 35-4 in 1937-38. Despite 11
20-victory seasons over the last 18 years, XU teams were 0-8 during that time
after reaching 24 victories.
"It's good to get over that hump," said Jackson, who
coached 24-game winners in 2004-05 and 2007-08. "But we don't want to stop
at 25 wins. We have more games to play and a lot more to accomplish."
Xavier will close the regular season at 7 p.m.
Saturday against longtime rival Dillard in the Crosstown Classic at The Barn,
then travel to Jacksonville, Fla., for next week's Gulf Coast Athletic Conference
Tournament. Seedings and pairings will be announced after Saturday. Xavier
hopes to return in mid-March to the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National
Championship at Kansas City, Mo., after a two-year absence.
Miller had eight points and five rebounds, and Devin
Andrew scored all nine of his points to lead Xavier to a 36-25 advantage by
halftime. Michael Harvey's 3-point play with 10:04 remaining gave Xavier a 51-34 lead.
Travis Lampley and Anthony Medina scored 10 points
apiece for St. Thomas, an NAIA Division I independent. Jeremy Lewis, who entered
with a St. Thomas-leading 13.1 scoring average, finished with three points and
was 1-of-7 from the floor.
Xavier outshot the Celts 45.7 to 36 percent from the
floor and outrebounded them 40-22. Xavier had a 23-8 rebound advantage in
the first half.
Xavier swept the two-game season series from St.
Thomas, whose signature victory was a 72-64 home decision over Texas Wesleyan,
ranked fourth this week in the NAIA.
"We were fortunate to win at St. Thomas in November,"
Jackson said of that 63-60 decision, "and we did enough tonight to get out of
here with another win."
The Gold Rush are 37-1 in non-conference home games
during the last four seasons and have won the last 18 in a row.