Gold Rush tune up for Tougaloo with 29-point win vs. Philander Smith

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NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana men’s basketball finally can focus on Tougaloo.

That’s the next game for the Gold Rush — an 85-56 winner at home Monday against Philander Smith — and that Saturday winner will be the lone unbeaten team in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference.

XULA will play Tougaloo at 5 p.m. in Tougaloo, Miss., on the outskirts of Jackson. Tougaloo is 8-0 in the GCAC and the defending regular-season and tournament champion; XULA is 7-0 after shooting a season-best 62.5 percent from the floor to give Philander Smith its second-largest losing margin in a GCAC regular-season game.

Rayshawn Mart scored 22 points for XULA — it’s the 10th time this season he reached 20 — Makye Richard had 14 points and seven rebounds, and William Loyd had 13 points and game highs of eight rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Ed Carter, two days after his school-record 7-of-7 performance from 3-point range, made 3-of-4 treys and finished with nine points. The junior guard made 14-of-17 treys the last three games.

“This was the first time this season we played well the entire 40 minutes,” said head coach Alfred Williams, whose team is ranked 15th in NAIA Division I. “We had too many turnovers (23) and missed free throws (15), but we bounced back well from Saturday.”

Saturday the Gold Rush rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat last-place Rust by 21. But this time XULA led wire-to-wire and produced its largest winning margin in a GCAC regular-season game since 75-46 at Fisk on Jan. 4, 2014.

“This,” Williams said, “was a great team win.”

XULA limited Dejalin Austin — who entered with 18.1 points per game, 21.6 in the GCAC — to 13 points in 32 minutes on 2-of-9 from the floor and 9-of-15 free throws. Miquan Martin also scored 13 for the Panthers (7-15, 2-6).

XULA (19-4) has won nine straight — its longest win streak since the 2010-11 season — and 15 of its last 16 games.
Tougaloo has the same overall record as XULA and also will enter Saturday with a nine-game win streak.

“It will be like a heavyweight fight,” Williams said. “Two great teams both unbeaten in conference. Tougaloo is the defending champion, so we know the road to the title goes through them. But our entire season has prepared us for moments like this.”

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