Gold Nuggets lead entire 2nd half to sweep Dillard away

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NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana got a huge second quarter from Essence Wells and key fourth-quarter plays from Jas Hill Saturday to earn a 60-55 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference women’s basketball victory against Dillard at Dent Hall.

The Gold Nuggets (20-6, 10-1) remained a half-game ahead of Talladega (24-4, 10-2) in the GCAC. XULA will close the regular season with three straight GCAC home games — the Gold Nuggets are 10-0 at home this season.

XULA completed a regular-season sweep of the Lady Bleu Devils (16-10, 7-4), who won GCAC regular-season and tournament championships a year ago.

Wells scored a game-high 18 points, 13 in the second quarter. Hill scored nine of her 16 points in the final period. Hill did not miss a shot in the fourth, including a shot-clock-beating 3-pointer that gave the Nuggets a 55-48 lead with 2:36 remaining and two free throws after her steal in the final 15 seconds for the game’s final points.

Wells made 1-of-2 free throws at 2:21 of the second quarter to put XULA ahead to stay at 19-18. The Gold Nuggets led 29-22 at halftime and by 10 points four times in the second half.

XULA made four first-quarter 3-pointers and finished with nine to set a XULA season record for made 3s with 168. The Nuggets of 2003-04 and 2011-12 shared the previous mark of 167.

The Gold Nuggets reached 20 victories for the 23rd time in the last 27 seasons and the 16th time in Bo Browder’s 20 seasons as head coach. It was the third straight time that XULA recorded No. 20 with a win at Dillard.

XULA will close the regular season with Rust on Monday, SUNO on Wednesday and Philander Smith Feb. 25. All three games will start at 5:30 p.m.

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