Gold Rush win GCAC opener at Philander Smith

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Johnell Lane scored 15 points Saturday, and Nigel Allen’s late 3-pointer put NAIA No. 14 Xavier University of Louisiana ahead to stay in a 74-70 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference men’s basketball victory against Philander Smith.

The Gold Rush (13-4, 1-0 GCAC) will stay on the road and play Rust at 7:30 p.m. Monday in a conference game at Holly Springs, Miss.

William Loyd scored 14 points and Virgil Davison 10 for XULA, which has won nine of its last 10 games.

XULA led 31-25 at halftime and never trailed in the second half, but the Panthers (6-10, 1-1) rallied to tie the score at 70 on Dajalin Austin’s 3-pointer with 44 seconds remaining. Allen then provided the winning points, a trey with 24 seconds remaining.

Austin missed a 3 with six seconds remaining, then Lane made 1-of-2 free throws to conclude the scoring.

Austin scored a season-high and career-high-tying 30 points for the Panthers, and Robert Jordan added 11 points.

XULA beat Philander Smith in its home facility for the first time since Feb. 3, 2014.

“We didn’t play our best, but we fought hard and found a way to get it done,” XULA head coach Alfred Williams said. “Nigel Allen hit a big shot when we needed it. Cameron Wells played all game and showed up when Rayshawn Mart and Makye Richard fouled out. Our bench helped us win the game.”

Wells had six points, two assists and game highs of nine rebounds and three steals. XULA’s bench accounted for 27 points and 19 of the team’s 32 rebounds.

Philander Smith outshot XULA 50 to 44.4 percent from the floor and held a 38-32 rebound advantage. But the Gold Rush were plus-8 in turnovers, committing eight and gaining 22.

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