Gold Nuggets repeat as GCAC Tournament champion
March 5, 2011
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Keldra Hall scored 14 points
and Christina Warren 13 Saturday to lead Xavier University of Louisiana to a
71-44 women's basketball victory over Tougaloo in the championship game of the
Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament.
The Gold Nuggets (26-6), ranked 20th in NAIA Division
I, won the tournament for the second straight year and the 12th time overall to
extend their GCAC record. Xavier will receive the GCAC's automatic bid to the
NAIA Division I National Championship at Jackson, Tenn., and play a first-round
game March 16 or 17. Pairings and game times will be announced Wednesday.
Hall, selected the tournament's most valuable player,
and Warren combined for 20 points in leading Xavier to a 40-17 advantage by
halftime. The Nuggets shot 63 percent from the floor in the first half and
finished at 54.7 percent, their second-best accuracy of the season.
No one else had more than seven points for the
Nuggets — Brandi Young and freshmen Paige Gauthier and Carmen Holcombe
scored seven apiece — but all 13 players scored.
"I thought our depth wore (Tougaloo) down," said XU
Coach Bo Browder, whose teams have won five GCAC tourneys in his 12 seasons.
"I said early in the season that we'd be playing our best basketball at
the end of the season, and we are."
Xavier matched a tournament record for the widest
winning margin in the championship round. Mobile defeated Louisiana College 79-52 in 1993.
Victoria Jones led Tougaloo (12-17) with 14 points
and 11 rebounds — her 10th consecutive double-double and third of the
tournament — and Portia Craft scored 10. The Lady Bulldogs shot 26.3 percent
from the floor, and it was the second straight day that Xavier limited an
opponent to less than 30 percent.
Joining Hall on the six-player all-tournament team
were Young and teammate Jazmoné Kelly, Tougaloo's Jones, Ebony Presha of Edward
Waters and Ariel Mitchell of Dillard.
"This is the first time I've won a championship on any
level," said Hall, a junior center from Dallas who has played basketball for
10 years. "My first MVP too. I was surprised to win MVP. I thought Christina would win it."
Warren, the GCAC Player of the Year, made amends
for a subpar performance in Friday's semifinals — five points for the game
and two quick fouls that sent her to the bench — by hitting three
consecutive 3-pointers in the first four minutes.
"I had my mind set today to stay out of foul trouble
and just shoot the ball and play harder on defense," Warren said.
Defensively it was more of the same for the Nuggets,
who extended their school record by allowing less than 50 points for the 18th
time this season. The previous mark was 15, a record matched last season.
"We've had major trials and tribulations within the
past 12 months of the program." Browder said. "Losing my father (in April),
losing two all-conference players who could've been here today, including one
who would've been an All-American. People think winning is easy. But it never
is when you bring a group of young people together to win a championship."