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Gold Nuggets eliminate defending champion in first round
March 9, 2014

Box score

     FRANKFORT, Ky. — Senior center Whitney Gaston-Loyd scored 15 points Wednesday to lead Xavier University of Louisiana to a 66-53 victory against defending champion Westmont in the opening round of the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball National Championship.
     The Gold Nuggets (24-9), ranked 20th, became the first team in the tournament's 34-year history to eliminate a defending champion in the first round. Xavier led for nearly 38 minutes, won its seventh straight and will play fourth-ranked Campbellsville (31-3) in the second round at 2:15 p.m. EDT Friday.
     Vinnie Briggs scored 11 points, Danielle Tucker 10 and Whitney Gathright nine for Xavier. Carmen Holcombe grabbed eight rebounds, and Gaston-Loyd and Chelsea Broussard had six apiece.
     Kelsie Sampson had 26 points and seven rebounds for Westmont (20-10), and Esther Lee scored 16.
     Gaston-Loyd and Tucker scored six points apiece in a 20-3 run during the final seven minutes of the first half. Xavier led 42-21 at the break.
     "Some pressure defense got us that run," XU coach Bo Browder said. "We forced several turnovers, got some layups. That was huge for us."
     Westmont scored the first 11 points of the second half but never got closer than eight points thereafter. After Sampson's basket with 7:19 remaining cut Xavier's lead to 53-45, the Nuggets scored seven of the next nine points and led 60-47 after Gathright's two free throws at 2:31.
     Xavier outshot the Warriors 41.7 to 37 percent from the floor, outrebounded them 42-34 and had a 29-0 advantage in bench scoring. The Nuggets' seven turnovers were their fewest in a game since November 2011, and the rebound advantage was their largest at nationals since 1996.
     Gaston-Loyd led the Nuggets in scoring for the second consecutive game. She had 17 points in a victory against Talladega in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament on March 9.
     "Whitney Loyd has grown tremendously on and off the court over the last year and a half," Browder said. "She has shown great leadership down the stretch and has communicated well with her teammates. She's more mature and a better person than when she got here, which is what we like to see from everyone in our program."
     It's the third time in four years that the Nuggets defeated a higher-ranked team in the opening round. Westmont was 13th in the final coaches poll before the tournament.
     The game was the last of eight in the first round Wednesday. Xavier and Westmont were scheduled to tip off at 9:45 p.m. EDT, but the game did not start until 10:15 p.m. The game ended at 11:45.
     "We've had a lot of 7-to-9 p.m. practices this season, so the lateness wasn't a problem," Browder said. "We were prepared for everything."
     The winning margin was the Nuggets' largest at nationals since the 1997 first round. The XU women are in the national tournament for the 18th time in 20 seasons and the fifth consecutive year.
     There will be eight more first-round games Thursday. Quarterfinals will be played Saturday.


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
1 Drexel Drive
Campus Box 92
New Orleans, LA 70125
(504) 520-7329 phone
(504) 520-7934 fax

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