Gold Nuggets win at La Sierra to gain split in California

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Shylia McGee scored 21 points Sunday to lead Xavier University of Louisiana in a 68-46 women’s basketball victory against La Sierra.

The Gold Nuggets (2-1) finished 1-1 in their California trip. They lost 61-45 Thursday at NAIA No. 2 Westmont.

McGee — a 5-foot-8 junior guard from Biloxi, Miss., and in her first XULA season after transferring from Southwest Mississippi Community College — has scored in double figures in every game. McGee was 5-of-7 on 3-pointers and produced the most made 3s in a game by a Gold Nugget since Shaelynn Moore’s 5-of-7 performance against Dillard on Feb. 29, 2020.

In three games McGee made 57.9 percent of her 3s: 11-of-19.

Kaylee Martinez, a 5-foot-9 senior, filled the stat sheet for La Sierra (0-4). She needed just seven shots to score 14 points — she was 4-of-4 on 3-pointers — and had 10 rebounds, five assists, five steals and a block in 35 minutes.

The Gold Nuggets led by double digits in both halves, and they pulled away in the second half with a 26-5 run in which McGee scored 15 points, including three 3s. McGee closed the surge with a trey to give XULA a 61-39 lead with 4:31 remaining.

Ashanti LaVergne, Mary Wilkins and Nia Bishop scored nine points apiece for XULA. LaVergne grabbed nine rebounds. Bishop had six rebounds and four assists, and her eight steals are the most in a game by a Gold Nugget since Mikayla Bates had eight at Tougaloo on Jan. 13, 2018.

XULA made 13 free throws to La Sierra’s four, outrebounded the Golden Eagles 42-31 and was plus-12 in turnovers, committing 15 and gaining 27. The Gold Nuggets outshot La Sierra 39.3 to 38.6 percent from the floor — 45.2 to 34.8 percent in the second half.

“The defense picked up in the second half, and we started making shots,” 24th-year XULA head coach Bo Browder said. “We learned a lot from these two games in California. I’m excited about where we are, and I can see signs that we could be good in the postseason.”

The game tipped off at 9 a.m. PST. XULA had been hoping for a Saturday matchup, but La Sierra filled that date with NCAA Division I Long Beach State . . . and the Golden Eagles lost 79-34 on the road. But XULA handled its business Sunday and made it to Los Angeles International Airport in time for an afternoon flight home.

XULA will play host to city rival SUNO at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Convocation Center.

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