Nuggets top Talladega for 3rd straight GCAC tourney title
March 3, 2012
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Tournament MVP SiMon
Franklin scored 13 points Saturday to lead top-seeded Xavier University of
Louisiana to a 58-50 women's basketball victory against Talladega in the
Gulf Coast Athletic Conference championship game.
Franklin, a junior guard, scored a 3-point play with
11:01 remaining to put the Gold Nuggets ahead to stay, 38-35.
Xavier (25-8), ranked 20th in NAIA Division I, won the
tournament for the third consecutive season, the fourth time in five years and
the 13th time overall. The Nuggets earned the GCAC's automatic berth in the
national tournament, which will begin March 14 at Frankfort, Ky. The 32-team
bracket and game times will be announced Wednesday.
Franklin averaged 12 points, three rebounds, 2.7
assists and shot 50 percent from the floor in three tournament games.
"Monee Franklin has had a great year — her best
year with us so far," XU coach Bo Browder said. "She redshirted last season,
but she came back focused and locked-in on being a better player, teammate and
student. She accomplished all three."
Jazmoné Kelly and Jasmine Grant scored 11 points apiece
for Xavier. Grant and Brandi Young were XU's other representatives of the
six-player all-tournament team. Young was all-tournament for the second
straight year. Kelly led the Nuggets with eight rebounds and four steals.
Stephanie DeFrance scored 14 points for second-seeded
Talladega (22-8), and Bianca Thomas had 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Xavier led 21-7 after 13 minutes and 27-18 at halftime.
The Nuggets never trailed and were tied twice, both in the first nine minutes
of the second half.
"I wasn't worried when Talladega came back on us,"
Franklin said. "We knew Talladega's a good team and that it would be a hard
game to win, but we knew we had enough to finish. We've been preparing for
those types of situations all season."
Young's 12-foot jumper on the right baseline gave
Xavier a 54-48 lead with 1:21 remaining. Grant scored the game's last three
points on free throws in the final 30 seconds.
The Nuggets outshot the Lady Tornadoes 36.1 to 28.1
percent from the floor.
It's the first time a school won three consecutive
GCAC women's tournaments since Xavier won five straight from 1994-98. Browder
was an assistant during the final season of that earlier streak, and he is
6-3 in GCAC championship games as a head coach. His teams also won GCAC
tourney championships in 2001, 2005 and 2008, and they were runner-up in
1999, 2002 and 2007.
Xavier has won seven in a row and 18 of its past 21
games. The Nuggets qualified for nationals for the 16th time in 18 seasons
and the 11th time in Browder's 13 seasons as head coach. Xavier is 44-2
against GCAC opponents since the start of the 2009-10 season.
NOTES: The victory made Browder the second
coach in the history of Louisiana women's collegiate basketball with eight
25-win seasons. Louisiana Tech's Leon Barmore produced 18 such seasons from
1982-2002 . . . Talladega is in the first year of its second GCAC tenure.
The other was from 1999-2002 . . . Xavier's final two tournament conquests,
Talladega and Tougaloo, were the GCAC teams which defeated Xavier during the