Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Rush 18th, play at home in GCAC tourney Friday

NEW ORLEANS -- Xavier University of Louisiana climbed three places to 18th Tuesday in the NAIA Division I Men's Basketball Coaches' Top 25 Poll.

The Gold Rush (22-8) closed the regular season with three consecutive victories, the last a 67-41 home victory Saturday against city rival Dillard. Xavier will be the No. 2 seed in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament and will play Friday against seventh-seeded Dillard at XU's Convocation Center. Starting times are expected to be announced by noon Wednesday.

Xavier is in the top 25 for the 48th consecutive poll. That's the longest current streak of top-25 appearances among NAIA DI men.

The GCAC Tournament's No. 1 seed, Talladega, is No. 1 nationally for the third consecutive week. The Tornadoes received all 10 first-place votes.

The top 25:

1. Talladega
2. Hope International
3. Cal State San Marcos
4. Freed-Hardeman
5. Dalton State
6. Pikeville
7. (tie) Concordia (Calif.)
7. (tie) Campbellsville
9. Martin Methodist
10. LSU-Alexandria
11. Georgetown (Ky.)
12. Columbia (Mo.)
13. Wayland Baptist
14. Mid-America Christian
15. Montana Western
16. Benedictine (Kan.)
17. Our Lady of the Lake
18. Xavier
19. Arizona Christian
20. Lewis-Clark State
21. Westmont
22. Evangel
23. Oklahoma City
24. Southwestern Assemblies of God
25. LSU-Shreveport

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director  XULAATHLETICS

PVAMU Panthers defeat Alabama State 67-65 to keep win streak rolling

MONTGOMERY, Alabama -- The Prairie View A&M Panthers built a nine-point lead midway through the second half and then held off an Alabama State comeback attempt Monday to claim a 67-65 win over the Hornets.

In front of boisterous crowd announced at 2,456 spectators, John Brisco scored 20 points, none bigger than the two he made on free throws with 19 seconds remaining to help the Panthers build a 3-point lead. Alabama State's Jamel Waters missed two out of three free throws with a chance to tie the game with 7.1 seconds left.

Tre Hagood scored 13 points and record six assists and five steals for the Panthers (13-16), who improved to 11-5 in Southwestern Athletic Conference play. Karim York added 12 points and nine rebounds.

The win was the Panthers' seventh consecutive triumph, eclipsing their six-game winning streak from the 2008-09 season, their best in the past decade. Prairie View A&M's current winning streak is their longest since a run of 12 consecutive wins all the way back in the 1972-73 season.

After Waters missed two out of three free throws in the final seconds, the Hornets got one more chance to tie the game after Prairie View A&M came up empty-handed on a one-and-one foul line trip. The Hornets again gave the ball to Waters, who drove in for a game-tying layup, only to be blocked by Reggis Onwukamuche to seal the win for the Panthers.

Onwukamuche finished the game with nine points and seven rebounds. He also blocked four shots in the contest, including the one that preserved the win. Four of those points came on a pair of monster dunks that only briefly quieted the enthusiastic, heckling Alabama State crowd.

With the exception of the Southern and Alcorn State, who make their treks to Texas this week, the Panthers have now beaten other opponent in the SWAC. Prairie View A&M has beaten the top two teams in the conference on the road this season – Texas Southern (17-12, 14-2 SWAC) and Alabama State (16-9, 12-4 SWAC).

Steve Rogers came off the Alabama State bench to score a game-high 26 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Rogers' output replaced that of DeMarcus Robinson, who scored 26 points – including the game-winner as time expired – in Alabama State's win in Prairie View one month ago.

The Panthers led by as many as nine points in the second half, only to see Alabama State chip away at the advantage in the late stages of the game. Prairie View A&M took the upper hand with a 17-5 run between the 16:56 and 10:36 marks of the second half to build a 50-41 lead.

Even with the Hornets getting the score back to a one-possession advantage several times, the Panthers had an answer. Brisco stifled a 5-0 State run with a midrange jumper that stretched the visitors' lead to 63-59 with 2:47 remaining in the game.

Hagood hit his biggest shot of the game with 41 seconds remaining when he knocked down a runner in the lane to put Prairie View A&M ahead 65-61.

The Panthers' starters played 167 of the 200 individual minutes in the game.

Zach Hamilton scored six points for the Panthers, while Montrael Scott added four points and four assists.

The Panthers return to action Thursday when they host Southern University. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Prairie View A&M's final home doubleheader of the season will be Saturday when Alcorn State visits William J. Nicks Arena.



TSU clinches share of regular season SWAC title

NORMAL, Alabama -- The Texas Southern Tigers basketball team clinched at least a share of the 2014-15 SWAC Regular Season Title with a big road win over Alabama A&M on Monday.

The Tigers will have the opportunity to clinch the title outright with a win at home on Thursday, March 5 versus Alcorn State.

Under the direction of TSU head coach Mike Davis this marks the third consecutive season the Tigers' basketball program has claimed a championship.

Texas Southern won the 2013 SWAC Regular Season Championship and the 2014 SWAC Tournament Title.

TSU's Deverell Biggs scored 21 points and Madarious Gibbs added 20 as the Tigers defeated Alabama A&M 77-75 in a contest that went down to the wire.

Texas Southern led by 10 with 3:59 to go, but Alabama A&M got several consecutive baskets to tie the game at 73 with 1:44 left.

Malcolm Riley made 1 of 2 free throws and Chris Thomas followed with a key layup to put Texas Southern back up by three with 19 seconds remaining. AAMU made two free throws closing TSU's lead to one.

Gibbs made it a two-point game with a late free throw, as the Tigers
defense subsequently went on the get their biggest stop of the night as the Bulldogs missed a 3-pointer with four seconds to go.



It was a banner day for Xavier's outgoing president

NEW ORLEANS — During Xavier University of Louisiana's 2009 athletic awards banquet, longtime XU president Dr. Norman C. Francis received a framed basketball jersey with the number 1. The sequel to that event occurred Saturday at the Convocation Center on a much bigger stage.

Before a facility-record crowd of 3,267 during halftime of the XU-Dillard Crosstown Classic men's basketball game, XU Director of Athletics and Recreation Jason Horn unveiled an 8-foot banner honoring Francis for his 47 years as president and his continued commitment to XU's athletics program.

Xavier University of Louisiana's Dr. Norman C. Francis stands next to the banner honoring his years of presidential service to XU and the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics. With him, from left, are Faculty Athletics Representative Sister Grace Mary Flickinger, Vice President for Student Services Joseph Byrd and Director of Athletics and Recreation Jason Horn. Francis will retire June 30, 2015, after 47 years as Xavier's president.

photo by Yamlak Tsega, Xavier Athletics  

The banner will hang from the rafters of the Convocation Center along with numerous other new banners which spotlight Xavier's championships won and national-tournament appearances.

Francis, who will celebrate his 84th birthday in about three weeks, will retire June 30, 2015.

Before he ascended to Xavier's presidency in 1968, Francis was one of XU's leading proponents in the 1967 reinstatement of intercollegiate athletics after a 7-year absence. Six years later, in 1973, Xavier's men's basketball team led by Donald "Slick" Watts and Bruce Seals upset top-ranked Sam Houston State 67-60 in the second round of the NAIA National Championship at Kansas City, Mo. That was the second of 78 team or individual appearances by XU athletes at NAIA National Championship events during Francis' presidency.

Also during Francis' tenure, Xavier's more than 700 student-athletes have received 79 All-America awards and 67 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar awards. They have won 94 conference, regional or district championships. In 2014, Xavier earned its fourth consecutive Thomas Howell Cup, the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference's all-sports award. The Gold Rush and Gold Nuggets have produced 32 unbeaten conference seasons.

"Dr. Francis is our No. 1, our MVP," Horn said. "None of our success in athletics has been possible without his leadership and support."

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director  XULAATHLETICS

Record crowd attends Crosstown Classic doubleheader

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana attracted a Convocation Center-record 3,267 fans Saturday to its 67-41 men's basketball victory against Dillard in the Crosstown Classic presented by Hotard Coaches.

The previous record in the third-year facility was 2,700 for Xavier's 62-54 Crosstown Classic victory against Dillard on Jan. 25, 2014.

Saturday's opening game of the doubleheader, Xavier's 60-57 victory against Dillard, attracted 2,491 fans, a Convocation Center record for a women's game. The previous record was 1,000 for the Gold Nuggets' 88-34 victory against Johnson & Wales (Fla.) on Nov. 3, 2012, the day the facility opened to the public.

To date, men's basketball has produced a 16.5 increase in average home attendance from 2013-14 and a 23.3 percent increase in total home attendance. Women's basketball has increased 20.3 percent in average home attendance and 38.8 percent in total home attendance. During the fall, women's volleyball increased 9.6 percent in average home attendance and 82.5 percent in total home attendance.

"We would like to thank our students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans for joining us at the Convocation Center on Saturday and all season long," said XU Director of Athletics and Recreation Jason Horn. "Our administrative staff has put a lot of time and effort into growing attendance. We plan to engage our fan base even more in the coming years."

Basketball capacity at the Convocation Center is 3,937. The facility's non-basketball capacity is 4,500.

Xavier's home doubleheader with Dillard attracted 7,189 fans on Feb. 1, 2003, and 6,175 on Feb. 28, 2004. The Crosstown Classics of those years were played downtown at New Orleans Arena, now known as Smoothie King Center.

Xavier will play host to the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament this week. The Convocation Center will be the site of men's quarterfinal games Friday, men's and women's semifinals Saturday and men's and women's championship games Sunday. Dillard's Dent Hall will be the site of the women's quarterfinals Friday.

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director  

91 Xavierites qualify for inaugural AD's Honor Roll

NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana honored 91 students Saturday who qualified for the inaugural Athletic Director's Honor Roll.

Intercollegiate athletes and members of Xavier's three spirit groups made the AD's Honor Roll by passing 12 or more hours with a minimum 3.0 grade-point average during the spring 2014 semester or the fall 2014 semester. They were recognized during the Xavier-Dillard basketball Crosstown Classic at the Convocation Center.

Five teams/groups had double-digit representation on the AD's Honor Roll, led by the Golden Girls Pom Squad with 17. Women's cross country/track and field provided 16 members, followed by women's volleyball with 13, the Gold Star Dancers with 12 and the cheerleaders with 11.

The members of the 2014 AD's Honor Roll:

Men's Basketball
Riley Smith
Jarvis Thibodeaux

Men's Cross Country/Track and Field
Langston Adams
Emmanuel Detiege
Kwame Jackson
Brent Kitto
Javon Mead
Erwin Simmons

Men's Tennis
Adam Albrecht
Jeremiah Capdeville
Vincenzo Ciccone
Nikita Soifer
Viktor Svoboda

Women's Basketball
Daylin Boatner
Emoni Harvey
Kelsey Joseph
Taylor Norman
Alesha Smith
Danielle Tucker

Women's Cross Country/Track and Field
Angelica Alexander
Clarke Allen
Carlie Calais
Drew Chatters
Terri Cunningham
Catherine Fakler
Hannah Finnegan
Zahri Jackson
Chelsea James
Katelyn McMorris
Kaylee Moore
Devinn Rolland
Tramaine Shannon
Briana Simms
Chelsea Simpson
Kailey Williams

Women's Tennis
Amber Brown
Jordyn Goody
Brandi Nelson
Carmen Nelson

Women's Volleyball
Jada Broussard
Jodi Chatters
Chinedu Echebelem
Ralitsa Hadzhistoyanova
Jodi Hill
Kayla Jones
Franziska Pirkl
Taylor Reuther
Kaelan Temple
Jelena Vujicic
Simone White (also qualified as a cheerleader)
CeCe Williams
Aliyah Wilson

Micah Anthony
Sierra Blanchard-Hodge
Jessica Carmon
Tatiana Collins
Morgan Dillard
Shacore Nelson
Ashlyn Pinkins
Rotieranna Scott
Kayla Street
Brianna Thompson
Simone White (also qualified in women's volleyball)

Gold Star Dancers
Bryanne Anderson
Chanarion Arnold
Kyla Baron
Brandi Calvin
Sarah Hale
Brehana Hawkins
Kendra Jenkins
Ivyanne London
Shalani Taylor
Jayle Watkins
Colby Williams
Donielle Williams

Golden Girls Pom Squad
BreAwna Barnes
Antoinette Belle
Kerri Brown
Dominique Cameron
Destane Garrett
Jasmine Grandpre'
Theresa Hudson
Alethia Love
Bianca Moore
Candice Moses
Kristen Patrick
Zanola Phillip
Essence Prince
Tasha Smith
KaJanae' Walton
Cassidy Williams
Vernicia Winford

Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tigers Advance In SIAC Tournament With 59-46 Victory Over Kentucky State

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama  -- The Benedict College Tigers built a large first-half lead and held on for a 59-46 victory over Kentucky State in the opening round of the 2015 SIAC men's basketball tournament in the Bill Harris Arena on Monday afternoon.

The Tigers now advance to the quarterfinals, and will play Stillman, the No. 1 seed from the western division, at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday.

Benedict (16-11) shut down Kentucky State (8-18) in the first half, holding the Thorobreds to 29 percent shooting and forcing nine turnovers. Benedict was consistently able to race down the court after turnovers or missed shots and had a 15-point lead, 33-18 at the break.

"We dictated the tempo, we dictated the pace," Benedict coach Fred Watson said. "Defensively, we were aggressive and got the ball out of the guys' hands who could hurt us. We rebounded the ball well. We moved the ball from side to side on the offensive end."

Kentucky State was able to close the gap to seven points late in the game, but the Tigers were able to control the offense and let guard Brennan Reynard attack the basket to seal the victory.

Reynard flirted with a triple-double, scoring a game-high 16 points, while grabbing eight rebounds, equaling for the game high, to go along with a game-high seven assists and four steals.

"We just did a good job down the stretch, particularly Brennan, and getting baskets when we needed. We talked about players having to make plays to win this tournament, and down the stretch, when things kind of tightened up for us, we put the ball in one of our best players' hands and he made plays."

Deonte Johnson added 11 points for the Tigers and had eight rebounds.

Ulysses Thomas led Kentucky State with 12 points.

"They did a phenomenal job of taking us out of what we wanted to do," said Kentucky State head coach Antwain Banks. "They capitalized on turnovers and our bad shots, which are just as bad as turnovers. That deficit in the first half was just too much for us."

Benedict led 12-8 with 11:53 left in the first half before going on a 12-2 run. Kel Robin had back-to-back baskets to start the run, and Andrew Crawford capped off the run with a 3-pointer.

Benedict now takes on Stillman in Wednesday night's final game. In their only meeting this season, Benedict defeated Stillman 67-58 in Columbia on Jan. 3.