Bishop’s late free throws bless Gold Nuggets with 64-63 victory against Dillard

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Nia Bishop
(Photo: Yamlak Tsega/XULA Athletics)

NEW ORLEANS — Nia Bishop was willing to forgive and forget…and she was ready to deliver for Xavier University of Louisiana women’s basketball in the closing moments Friday.

Bishop’s two free throws with 4.8 seconds remaining gave the Gold Nuggets a 64-63 victory against Dillard at University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena. XULA defeated its longtime city rival for the second time in seven days.

Bishop, a senior guard, went 0-of-2 from the line with 2:36 remaining and the scored tied at 58. But recent results weren’t her concern as she addressed her final opportunity.

“I just ignored the crowd and focused on these free throws,” Bishop said. “Those earlier free throws weren’t bad misses. They rattled in and out. I focused at the end on putting these in and leaving no doubt.”

The winning shots gave Bishop a season-high 20 points — she also had six rebounds, two assists and five steals — and gave XULA its first 4-0 start since the 2018-19 season.

Destinee Pointer scored a season-high 16 points for XULA, and Da’Jha Virgil had nine points, four assists and two steals. Abryhia Irons and Rayna Ross grabbed seven rebounds apiece.

Dillard’s Ayani Cockrell — 9-of-13 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the line — scored a game-high 22 points. The Lady Bleu Devils (3-4) lost their fourth in a row.

XULA outscored Dillard in 3-of-4 quarters, but the Lady Bleu Devils’ 23-13 third quarter erassed the Gold Nuggets’ 32-27 halftime lead and put XULA in comeback mode for the first time this season. It was edge-of-your-seat anxiety: There were six ties and seven lead changes in the final eight minutes.

XULA committed 26 turnovers, its third straight game with more than 25. The Gold Nuggets will travel to Hattiesburg, Miss., for a 5:30 p.m. Monday game at another longtime rival, William Carey.

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