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SUNO holds on to beat Rush by 1 in GCAC semifinals
March 2, 2012

Box score

     JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Freshman guard Kevin Dukes scored a career-high 27 points Friday to lead SUNO to a 66-65 men's basketball victory against Xavier University of Louisiana in the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament.
     The third-seeded Knights (16-13) advanced to the championship game for the first time since 2004. They'll play defending champion and top-seeded Tougaloo, a 94-88 winner against fourth-seeded Philander Smith in Friday's other semifinal.
     Xavier (23-8) — seeded second, ranked 18th nationally and the regular-season co-champion with Tougaloo — will await an at-large berth to the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National Championship at Kansas City, Mo. Bids will be announced Wednesday, and the tournament will begin March 14. Xavier qualified for nationals five of the past seasons, including 2011.
     Clyde Moore and Devin White scored 10 points apiece for SUNO, which led 30-27 at halftime.
     Chris Iles and Jamaan Kenner scored 11 points each for Xavier, and Kevin Miller scored 10. Denzell Erves scored nine points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
     Except for a tie at 36 which lasted less than half a minute, SUNO led for the final 28:16. Dukes' 3-pointer with 14:17 remaining put the Knights ahead to stay, 39-36.
     Xavier faced its largest deficit of the game, 54-43, after Dukes scored with 7:22 remaining but twice closed to within a point in the final 2:40. The Gold Rush missed a chance to take the lead when Cordell Hadnot's shot hit the side of the backboard with 1:15 remaining. Moore grabbed the rebound for SUNO and drove the length of the court for a 3-point play and a 63-59 advantage at 1:11.
     With the Rush trailing 66-63, Wanto Joseph missed on a 3-pointer with two seconds remaining. SUNO controlled the rebound out-of-bounds with half a second remaining, and Xavier scored the final points at the buzzer after Gil Mathieu stole the inbounds pass under the Rush basket.
     Xavier outshot SUNO 43.8 to 42.6 percent from the floor. Both teams grabbed 32 rebounds and committed 13 turnovers. SUNO made 22-of-34 free throws, including 6-of-7 in the final 2:23. Xavier was 20-of-26 from the line, including 13-of-14 in the final 14 minutes.
     SUNO beat Xavier for the second time in three tries this season. The Knights' earlier victory was 67-64 in overtime at The Barn on Jan. 10. That game knocked Xavier out of first place in the GCAC, but SUNO helped Xavier this past weekend when it defeated Tougaloo to force the Bulldogs to share the regular-season title with the Rush.
     Returning to the GCAC title game for the first time since 1996 will be SUNO coach Dale Valdery, an XU alum who was 2-2 in the championship round in his first six seasons as coach of the Gold Rush. This is Valdery's fourth season at SUNO, where he has led the Knights to their first winning season since 2004-05.


 

 
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 teams in basketball, cross country and tennis and women's teams in basketball, cross country, tennis and volleyball.

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