Gold Nuggets see Stars — and lots of OCU free throws
March 18, 2011
JACKSON, Tenn. — Xavier University of
Louisiana lost 67-51 Friday to Oklahoma City in the second round of the
NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship. But after losing
to OCU by 30, 30 and 38 points from 1999-2003, 12th-year XU Coach Bo Browder
is certain the talent gap has narrowed between his program and OCU.
Yet a wide gap in free-throw attempts — the
Stars made 20-of-40, the Gold Nuggets 12-of-17 — left Browder searching for
"A reporter asked me after the game about the
difference in free throws," Browder said. "I told him I didn't have a good explanation.
I will say this — it was a very physical game on both sides. (Oklahoma
City) wanted to intimidate us, but we didn't give in to them."
Fourth-ranked Oklahoma City committed 16 personal
fouls, and 20th-ranked Xavier was called for 30, its most since February 2005.
XU freshman Carmen Holcombe, starting for the second straight game at center, fouled out,
and teammates Keldra Hall, Marchelle Jones, Jazmoné Kelly and Christina Warren
had four fouls apiece.
Reserve guard Tiffany Goldwire, one of seven Stars to attempt four
or more free throws, led OCU (27-3) with 15 points, seven rebounds and three assists.
Lauren Gober added 13 points and six rebounds and scored five points during an 11-0
first-half run which gave OCU the lead for good.
That run, in which five Stars scored and four of them
had assists, turned Xavier's last lead (7-6) into a 17-7 OCU advantage with 12:26
remaining in the half. The Stars led 37-20 at halftime thanks to what Browder
said was "some of our worst basketball in a long time."
How bad was it? The Nuggets (27-7) shot 25 percent from the floor
— there was a 2-of-16 stretch which covered nearly 12 minutes —
and tacked on 14 turnovers and 16 fouls in the first half.
Browder still had praise for Oklahoma City, a national
semifinalist in 2009 and 2010 and a team ranked second in the coaches poll the
majority of this season. "There's no dropoff in them from those earlier times
we played them," Browder said. "Their talent on the roster one-through-10 is the
best of any team still in the tournament. That doesn't necessarily mean they'll
win out, but they have a lot of talent."
Jones, a junior guard playing her last game
for Xavier — she is leaving XU and basketball to pursue academic opportunities
for her double major of physics and electrical engineering — had 14 points,
five rebounds and three steals. Jones was the Nuggets' only double-figure scorer,
and she made a pair of 3-pointers in the final three minutes to equal her output
of her first 99 collegiate games.
Brandi Young scored nine points, and Hall and
freshman Chelsea Broussard scored seven apiece for Xavier. Broussard grabbed nine
rebounds, her third highest total of the season, and Hall had seven.
Danielle Kennebrew's six rebounds were her second-most this season.
Xavier limited senior guard Donica Cosby, a first-team
NAIA All-American last season, to eight points and 2-of-9 from the floor. But XU's
Warren — the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Player of the Year and a 19-point
scorer Wednesday against Lee (Tenn.) — had seven points in 25 minutes
and was 3-of-10 from the floor in her final Xavier game.
Oklahoma City led by double digits for the final 27:18.
Broussard's 3-point play at 12:56 cut the Stars' lead to 46-36, but Xavier never
got closer. OCU answered Broussard's points with an 18-7 run which gave the
Stars their biggest lead, 64-43, with 3:04 remaining. Still Xavier outscored
Oklahoma City 31-30 in the second half.
The Stars outshot the Nuggets 39.3 to 32.7 percent from
the floor. Xavier had a 41-40 rebound advantage but had a season-low two
assists and gained a season-low 13 turnovers, almost half of XU's per-game average.
Xavier finished with 21 turnovers, and the deficit of eight matched its
worst of the season.
Xavier is 0-6 in the second round at the national
tournament — Browder's teams are 0-2 — and four times Oklahoma teams
eliminated the Nuggets in that round. The Stars have done it twice, and they also have
a first-round victory against Browder's first XU team in 1999.
"We fought hard for 40 minutes and I'm proud of that,"
Browder said. "We were not fully loaded up here because of some injured players,
but we'll be OK. We had a great year, and I'm thankful to these young
ladies for stepping up and making it happen when we had some tough times."
NOTES: Ashley McGill, Xavier's other senior,
did not attempt a shot in 14 relief minutes . . . The 16-point losing margin
was Xavier's largest since a 73-56 loss to Lambuth in the first round of the
2008 national tournament . . . Xavier allowed a school-record-low 50.1
points per game and likely will hold on to No. 1 in NAIA Division I for the second
consecutive season. The Gold Nuggets allowed 52.1 points per game in 2009-10.