Late rally against Dillard puts Gold Rush in GCAC championship round

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NEW ORLEANS — Senior forward William Loyd scored 23 of his career-high 31 points in the second half Saturday to help top-seeded Xavier University of Louisiana escape with an 82-78 men’s basketball victory against city rival Dillard in the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament.

The Gold Rush (26-6), ranked 15th in NAIA Division I, will play 12th-ranked and second seeded Tougaloo (24-7) for the championship at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at XULA’s Convocation Center. The winner will receive the GCAC’s automatic bid to the NAIA Division I National Championship tournament, which will begin March 18 in Kansas City, Mo.

Loyd in the second half was 7-of-8 from the floor and made all nine of his free throws. He scored the final two points, free throws with two seconds remaining. A Cameron Wells basket with 34 seconds remaining put the Gold Rush ahead to stay.

XULA was 3-0 against Dillard this season and defeated the fifth-seeded Bleu Devils (18-14) for the second time in eight days.

Malik Amos scored 27 points for Dillard, and Shannon Sanford had 11 points and 15 assists.

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