Celts defeat Gold Rush 63-61 in closing seconds

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HOUSTON — Xavier University of Louisiana freshman Rayshawn Mart scored a career-high 16 points Wednesday, but St. Thomas (Texas) rallied in the final 2 1/2 minutes for a 63-61 men’s basketball victory.

The Celts (5-1) won their fifth in a row and snapped the two-game win streak of the Gold Rush (6-3). XULA has dropped three straight on the road.

Virgil Davison’s fourth 3-pointer of the game gave the Gold Rush a 57-54 lead with 2:32 remaining. XULA grabbed its final lead, 61-60, on Mart’s basket with 24 seconds to play.

Paul Taulton’s basket with 14 seconds remaining put St. Thomas ahead to stay, 62-61. After a XULA turnover on the next possession, Bryon Makel made 1-of-2 free throws for the Celts with one second remaining.

Mart, scoring in double figures for the second straight game and the fourth time this season, was 6-of-7 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the line in 24 minutes. Davison scored 14 points, and Jeff Dixon had eight points and five assists. Elex Carter had team highs of six rebounds and two blocked shots.

Makel scored 13 points and Taulton 10.

XULA trailed 30-21 at halftime after being outscored 20-5 in the final 11 minutes, but the Gold Rush got back in contention by shooting 55.6 percent from the floor in the second half. There were 10 ties and eight lead changes in the final period.

For the game, XULA outshot St. Thomas 44.2 to 35.8 percent from the floor. But the Celts were plus-10 in turnovers, committing 12 and gaining 22. St. Thomas produced 11 steals, four by Lennard Robinson.

The Gold Rush will break for Thanksgiving, then resume the schedule next Wednesday at 7 p.m. against NAIA No. 2 LSU-Alexandria at the Convocation Center. It’ll be a doubleheader, with the Gold Nuggets and LSUA tipping off at 5.

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