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Rush grab share of 2nd straight GCAC championship
February 23, 2013

Box score

     NEW ORLEANS — It was the largest crowd of the season at Xavier University of Louisiana's new Convocation Center — an estimated 2,500 — and the Gold Rush did not disappoint.
     Denzell Erves and Wanto Joseph both surpassed 1,000 career points on senior day, and Xavier defeated Dillard 70-46 in the Crosstown Classic to earn a share of its second consecutive Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular-season men's basketball championship.
     Xavier (24-6 overall, 11-3 GCAC), ranked 16th in NAIA Division I, shared the title with second-year member Philander Smith, but the Gold Rush won a tiebreaker to earn the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament at Little Rock, Ark. Xavier will get a rematch with Dillard in the opening round at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Barton Coliseum. It will be the first postseason meeting between the Gold Rush and Bleu Devils since 2000.
     It's the first time since 1985-86 and 1986-87 that the Gold Rush won back-to-back GCAC regular-season championships.
     Erves scored 11 of his game-high 17 points in the first six minutes to give the XU men a 16-3 lead and jump-start their sixth consecutive double-digit victory — fourth straight by 20 or more points — against their longtime city rival.
     Erves' basket at 15:19 of the first half, coming after a pass from Renard Smith, made Erves the 26th Gold Rush player to reach 1,000 career points. Joseph became the 27th player less than four minutes later, scoring after a pass from Gary Smith to give Xavier a 24-8 lead at 11:24.
     Joseph finished with 10 points — all in the first half — and 10 assists for his fourth double-double of the season. He did not get the 10th assist until he passed to Anthony Simmons for a basket with 1:52 remaining in the game.
     Simmons scored 13 points — he has 965 in three XU seasons — and Nick Haywood scored 11 to reach double figures for the second time in the last 16 games. Renard Smith scored nine points, and he and Erves had eight rebounds each.
     Jarrain Jenkins scored 13 points and Jeremy Rixner 12 for Dillard (3-20, 2-12), and Jordan Kilson had 10 points, six assists and four steals.
     Xavier shot 54 percent from the floor — the fourth time in the last six games and the 11th time this season that the Gold Rush made at least half of the shots — and limited the Bleu Devils to 41.5 percent. Xavier outrebounded Dillard 35-18.
     Xavier's 40-19 halftime lead was its largest of the season, and a Haywood 3-pointer with 16:48 remaining gave the Gold Rush the first of two 29-point leads. The Gold Rush led by at least 20 points for all but 72 seconds of the second half.
     Xavier defeated Dillard for the eighth consecutive time and the 15th time in the last 16 meetings. The Gold Rush lead 78-47 in a series which began during the 1947-48 season.
     The previous attendance high in the Convocation Center was 2,000 when the Gold Rush defeated Morehouse in the inaugural game Nov. 3. Among the attendees on Saturday were Bruce Seals and Donald "Slick" Watts, catalysts of the 1971-72 and 1972-73 XU teams which won NAIA District 30 championships and qualified for the NAIA National Championship both seasons. Seals and Watts, both of whom played in the NBA, addressed the crowd during a halftime ceremony.
     Honored before the game were six XU seniors in their final home appearance: Erves, Joseph, Simmons, Haywood, Renard Smith and Keenan Gay.
     The Xavier-Dillard winner will play Talladega or SUNO in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. Friday. The championship game will start at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Xavier hasn't won the GCAC Tournament since 1996 and has reached the championship game only twice since then — in 2008 and 2011.


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

Department of Intercollegiate Athletics
Xavier University of Louisiana
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Campus Box 92
New Orleans, LA 70125
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