Friday, March 18, 2016

XU Rush lose 69-68 in OT in opening round at nationals

KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Rich Tesmer's basket with five seconds remaining in overtime Thursday lifted fourth-ranked Lewis Clark State to a 69-68 victory against Xavier University of Louisiana in the opening round of the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship at Municipal Auditorium.

Tesmer scored a career-high 20 points, including a layup with four seconds remaining in regulation to tie the score at 61.

Xavier's Gary Smith missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer in regulation, and teammate Morris Wright missed a 2-pointer at the buzzer in overtime.

The Gold Rush (21-13) led 53-43 with three minutes remaining in the second half and missed four free throws in the final 1:09 of that period. Xavier made 15-of-29 free throws for the game, 9-of-20 after halftime.

The Warriors (29-4) led for about two minutes out of 45, including 46 seconds after halftime, and never led by more than a point. Xavier led for approximately 39 minutes.

Wright's fast-break basket at 1:36 gave Xavier its final lead, 68-67.

RJ Daniels had 14 points and seven rebounds for Xavier. Wright scored 12 points — his 42nd consecutive game in double figures — and Smith and Lucas Martin-Julien scored 10 apiece. Wesley Pluviose-Philip led the Gold Rush with eight rebounds, his most since late November.

Xavier's defense was stellar against one of the NAIA's most proficient offenses. The Gold Rush limited the Warriors to their second-lowest point total this season — they entered the tournament averaging 89.1 points per game — and a season-low 35.1 percent from the floor. LC State entered shooting an NAIA-best 51.4 percent. The Warriors also committed a season-worst 19 turnovers, well above their 11.7 average.

Nick Emerson scored 13 points for LC State, and Jacob Wiley had 12 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.

"This was a good game against a good team, but unfortunately we needed a couple more plays down the stretch to close it out," XU coach Dannton Jackson said. "It was a tough loss and some calls did not go our way at the end, but we hurt ourselves by not making free throws."

Xavier was eliminated in the first round at nationals for the sixth consecutive year. It was Xavier's second overtime game of the postseason — it beat Tougaloo in double-OT in the opening round of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament — and its first in 17 trips to nationals.

LC State will play Our Lady of the Lake, an 87-81 winner against Freed-Hardeman, in the round of 16 at 9:45 p.m. Friday.

NOTES: The overtime game was Xavier's fourth of the season and third in its final five games . . . It was the final XU game for four seniors: Daniels, Smith, Wright and Jarvis Thibodeaux . . . Wright extended his streak of consecutive games with a made 3-pointer to 41 . . . Wright also became the first Gold Rush player to reach 600 points and 100 assists in the same season (626 and 101) . . . Wright finished with 99 made 3-pointers, No. 2 on XU's all-time season list, and 1,552 career points to rank No. 4 at Xavier . . . Sophomore Elex Carter blocked two shots to finish with 41. He's the second XU player in the last 28 seasons to reach 40 in a season . . . Smith's 131 games played are an XU career record . . . Xavier was trying to become the third first-round winner from the GCAC, which would've been the most ever for the 35-year-old league. Regular-season champion Talladega beat Westmont 63-61 Wednesday, and tournament champion Dillard defeated Hope International 111-91 Thursday. It's the first time since 2004 that two GCAC teams advanced.


Ed Cassiere, Sports Information Director

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