Gold Rush fall to Panthers in overtime homecoming thriller, 85-77

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NEW ORLEANS — Jalen Mitchell scored 11 points in overtime Saturday to lead Clark Atlanta to an 85-77 men’s basketball victory against Xavier University of Louisiana.

It was XULA’s homecoming game, which attracted 2,252 fans.

The Panthers (1-3) made three consecutive 3-pointers in overtime, the first by Ian Roach at 3:32 to put them ahead to stay, 67-66. Mitchell followed with 3-pointers on the next two possessions. Two Mitchell free throws with 33 seconds remaining made it 82-70.

Clark Atlanta rallied from a seven-point deficit in the final five minutes of regulation, but it was XULA that forced overtime when Rayshawn Mart made two free throws with 2.3 seconds remaining.

Shelvick Henry scored 22 points, and Mitchell had 18 points and six assists for Clark Atlanta, an NCAA Division II tournament qualifier last season. Romaine Thomas had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Roach scored 13, and Austin Donaldson had 10.

Johnell Lane had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Gold Rush (4-3), ranked 23rd in the NAIA. Mart scored 17 points, and Ed Carter had 15 points and six assists. William Loyd had nine points, 10 rebounds and four steals.

Clark Atlanta, aided by 13 XULA turnovers, led 35-28 at halftime. The Gold Rush finished with a season-worst 25 turnovers.

“We lacked focus and attention to details down the stretch,” XULA coach Alfred Williams said. “We gave up two transition 3’s in overtime, which was a big momentum swing.

“Ray (Mart) did a nice job fighting back to get us into overtime, but at the end of the day we’ve got to pay attention to the details a little more. It was a great crowd and atmosphere for homecoming, but Clark Atlanta played harder than we did.”

XULA allowed its most points ever in an overtime period, 23. The previous mark was 21 against Tougaloo in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament at Jacksonville, Fla., on March 5, 2011.

The Panthers gave George Lynch his first head-coaching victory. Lynch played 12 NBA seasons, three (2002-05) with the New Orleans Hornets.

The loss was the third in a row for the Gold Rush and the first for Williams in seven overtime decisions as XULA’s head coach.

XULA will travel to Hattiesburg, Miss., to play NAIA No. 10 William Carey at 7 p.m. Monday. It wlll be a doubleheader; the Carey women will play XULA’s Gold Nuggets at 5 p.m.

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