Gold Rush pull away in second half for 73-44 victory at SUNO

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NEW ORLEANS — The lengthy men’s basketball series between Xavier University of Louisiana and SUNO is ending soon, so the Gold Rush gave the Knights something to remember Monday.

It wasn’t a rocking chair, but the Gold Rush had The Castle rocking.

Fueled by 11 consecutive points to open the game and 14-3 and 16-4 second-half runs, NAIA No. 15 XULA rolled to a wire-to-wire 73-44 victory against its longtime city, HBCU and Gulf Coast Athletic Conference rival. It was the largest winning margin by either team in this series since XULA’s 109-67 victory at The Barn on Feb. 5, 1972.

XULA leads the series, which began in the 1970-71 season, 78-30. The Gold Rush won seven straight against the Knights and in 27 of their last 32 meetings.

But more important, the Gold Rush kept pace with Talladega and Tougaloo in the GCAC. Tougaloo is 4-0 in conference after its 95-82 home win Monday against Dillard; Talladega, which was idle, and XULA are 3-0.

Next for XULA: a 5 p.m. Saturday home game against Talladega, which is ranked 20th.

William Loyd had 13 points, nine rebounds and four steals, Virgil Davison scored 11 points, and Makye Richard had 10 points, 14 rebounds and four assists to lead XULA (15-4) to its fifth consecutive victory and — for the first time since the 2010-11 season — 11 wins in 12 games.

Kevin Knapp scored 11 points for the Knights (3-12, 0-4), who have lost four straight and six of seven, and 7-footer Raymone Lampkin had 10 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.

XULA led 31-24 at halftime, and the margin was still single digits — 43-35 — after Terrance Collins-Lundy’s basket with 14:31 remaining. Then five XULA players scored during a 16-4 run, including Davison with six points, and the Gold Rush weren’t threatened thereafter.

XULA won despite its second-lowest field-goal accuracy of the season, 40.8 percent. But the Gold Rush limited SUNO to 33.3 percent and were plus-16 in turnovers, committing 11 and gaining 27. XULA produced 16 steals, the fifth consecutive game it reached double figures in that category. And 19 Gold Rush offensive rebounds were a season high.

Richard’s rebounds were the most in a game by a XULA player this season. The junior guard grabbed eight rebounds in the second half.

The teams will meet again Feb. 17 at XULA. A third meeting could occur in March at the GCAC Tournament. After that, no one knows for sure.

The Southern University Board of Supervisors approved Jan. 10 SUNO’s request to suspend athletics indefinitely at the end of the 2019-20 academic year. According to an Associated Press report, the university “is trying to save money and dig itself out of years of financial problems.”

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