Gold Nuggets stifle Dillard to reach GCAC title game
March 4, 2011
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Juniors Jazmoné Kelly and
Brandi Young scored 11 points apiece Friday to lead Xavier University of Louisiana
to a 64-39 women's basketball victory over city rival Dillard in the semifinals
of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Gold Nuggets (25-6), ranked 20th in NAIA Division
I and the tournament's top seed, will play third-seeded Tougaloo — a last-second
68-67 winner over second-seeded SUNO — for the championship at noon EST Saturday.
The winner will receive an automatic bid to the NAIA Division I National
Championship at Jackson, Tenn.
Kelly, named All-GCAC on Wednesday, also had four
rebounds, three assists and three steals. Young had three assists.
All-GCAC and Newcomer of the Year Keldra Hall had 10
points and six rebounds for Xavier, the defending tournament champion, and
Marchelle Jones had nine points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals.
"This was just a good all-around effort to start the
postseason," said XU Coach Bo Browder, whose team had a bye in Thursday's opening
round. "We had focus and intensity from the start. Our defense was solid."
The defense was more than that — again it was a
The Gold Nuggets set a program record by allowing less
than 40 points for the sixth time this season. Until Friday they shared that
record with the 1996-97 Nuggets. The XU women also extended their school record
by allowing less than 50 points for the 17th time this season.
Xavier allows 49.7 points per game to lead NAIA Division I.
The Nuggets were No. 1 in scoring defense last season too.
"If you play for Coach Bo, you will play defense,"
Browder said. "Or you won't play."
Xavier limited Dillard to its fewest points since November
2008. The Lady Bleu Devils were 9-of-55 from the floor and finished with one field
goal more than Kelly and Young, who were a combined 8-of-13. Dillard's All-GCAC Ariel
Mitchell and Jazzmin Smith, who combined for 38 points and 24 rebounds Thursday against
Edward Waters, had 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Nuggets and were 2-of-17
from the field.
"We were expecting a battle," said Browder, whose team
outlasted Dillard 72-68 and 59-54 during the regular season. "Dillard is dangerous
and always a threat. But our defense is dangerous too."
Xavier scored first and never lost the lead. It was 11-2
after four minutes, 30-20 at halftime and a double-digit margin throughout the
second half. The Nuggets outscored Dillard 12-2 in the final five minutes, with
the Lady Bleu Devils scoring a basket on their final possession.
The Nuggets, who shot 39 percent from the floor in the
regular season, made 43.8 percent against Dillard. They were 20-of-27 from the line,
making 20 free throws for just the fourth time this season.
It'll be the 18th time the Nuggets play in a GCAC Tournament
final and the eighth time in Browder's 12 seasons as head coach. Tougaloo, which beat
SUNO on Erica Grayson's 3-point play with four seconds remaining, is in the final for
the second time and the first time since 1997.
NOTES: Dillard scored its fewest points against
Xavier since 1999 . . . Xavier is 7-1 against Dillard in the postseason . . .
This is the 12th time the Gold Nuggets reached 25 victories . . . It's the seventh
time that a Louisiana college has men's and women's basketball teams with 25 or more
victories in the same season. XU's men were 26-4 entering their GCAC tourney semifinal
Friday night against SUNO . . . Xavier has won 49 of the last 52 meetings against
Tougaloo and beat the Lady Bulldogs 78-50 and 55-32 this season. The Nuggets
defeated Tougaloo at The Barn in the 2010 GCAC semifinals and the 2009 quarterfinals.