Thursday, March 17, 2016
Campbellsville eliminates Nuggets in NAIA's 1st round
INDEPENDENCE, Missouri — Xavier University of Louisiana made a late-season push to qualify for the NAIA Division I Women's Basketball Championship, but Campbellsville snuffed out that momentum with a 75-50 victory Wednesday morning in the tournament's opening game.
The Lady Tigers (26-7), ranked eighth nationally and a No. 2 seed at the tournament, used a 21-2 first-half run to pull away from the Gold Nuggets (22-12), ranked 25th and a No. 7 seed.
"I had really big hopes for our team," XU coach Bo Browder said. "I felt we were capable of making a great run in the tournament. But we didn't play very well, and Campbellsville played great throughout."
Whitney Gathright, one of six seniors in their final XU game, led the Nuggets with 16 points and became the program's eighth to reach 1,400 for a career. But no teammate scored more than five points.
Campbellsville had three double-figure scorers, led by Lindsey Burd with 22 points and Emily Fox with 21. Fox made five 3-pointers, the most by an XU opposing player this season, and made a pair of treys during the Lady Tigers' first-half run which gave them a 26-7 lead at 8:29 of the second quarter.
Campbellsville led 20-7 at the end of the first quarter, 36-22 at halftime — Xavier closed the half with a 13-8 run in the final six minutes — and twice by 29 points in the final 90 seconds.
The other XU seniors are Emoni Harvey, Trana Hopkins, Donyeah Mayfield, Amara Person-Hampton and Alesha Smith. Person-Hampton led her team with five rebounds and matched her career high.
Xavier, ranked ninth in early December, fell out of the top 25 for four consecutive weeks and was approaching the tournament bubble late in the season, then won five in a row, three in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament, to earn its 19th trip to nationals in the last 22 seasons. But the Lady Tigers outshot the Gold Nuggets 46.4 to 35.2 percent from the floor and outrebounded them 38-27. Campbellsville made nine 3-pointers, the most by an XU opponent this season.
Campbellsville is 4-0 all-time against Xavier, including a 59-55 victory at nationals in the 2014 second round. Xavier had won in the first round in three of its previous four trips (also 2011 and 2012).
Campbellsville, the national runner-up a year ago, will play seventh-ranked and No. 3 seed The Master's — a 59-57 winner against another New Orleans school, Loyola — in the round of 16 at 9 a.m. Friday. Eight more first-round games will be played Thursday, including GCAC regular-season champion Talladega against Lindsey Wilson at 4:30 p.m. The 32-team tournament will conclude Tuesday.
Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director
XAVIER UNIVERSITY OF LOUISIANA