Gold Nuggets suffer rare GCAC opening loss

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jermisha Collins scored 21 points Monday to help Edward Waters rally for a 66-62 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference women’s basketball victory against Xavier University of Louisiana. It was the GCAC opener for both teams.

Edward Waters (15-1) trailed 37-33 at halftime but took the lead for at 7:41 of the third quarter when Mia Leite made the Lady Tigers’ only 3-pointer of the second half.

Brittany Rowell had 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocked shots for Edward Waters, which handed the Gold Nuggets (7-6) their fourth loss in 36 GCAC openers and first since 2009. The Lady Tigers have won 14 straight since a 66-63 home loss to Florida Memorial Oct. 27.

Ireyon Keith scored a season-high 14 points for XULA, and Essence Wells had 13. Maya Trench had nine points and six assists. Wells and Mikayla Bates had four steals apiece. Gina Smith and DeDe Martinez grabbed eight rebounds apiece.

XULA held its largest lead, 18-9, after a Bates 3-pointer at 2:44 of the first quarter. But the Lady Tigers rallied for a tie at 20 at the end of the period.

Edward Waters outshot XULA 42.2 to 30.9 percent from the floor, 52.6 to 20.6 percent in the second half. The Gold Nuggets made 16-of-33 free throws — their 17 misses were their most in a game in nearly three years. The Gold Nuggets made four of their first five 3-pointers, then went 0-of-12 the rest of the game. XULA’s struggle to make second-half shots offset its plus-9 turnover margin, 19 steals and 22 offensive rebounds.

XULA will be back on the road for GCAC games at Tougaloo at 3 p.m. Saturday and Talladega at 5:30 p.m. next Monday.

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