Mbakop Ngassam buzzer-beater gives Gold Nuggets victory in RRAC debut

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NEW ORLEANS — O.C. Mbakop Ngassam’s short baseline basket at the buzzer gave Xavier University of Louisiana a 50-48 women’s basketball victory against Huston-Tillotson in XULA’s Red River Athletic Conference debut.

The Gold Nuggets prevented overtime after Ariana Smith’s basket for the Lady Rams tied the score at 48 with 1.7 seconds remaining. Mbakop Ngassam, a fifth-year center in her third year at XULA, scored the winning points after an inbounds pass from Abryhia Irons.

Da’Jha Virgil scored 13 points and Destinee Pointer 10 for XULA (6-4). Irons had a season-high five assists and a career-high-tying 12 rebounds, and Mbakop Ngassam had eight points, seven rebounds and a career-high-tying six blocked shots.

Traeli Calhoun, with 13 points, was the lone double-figure scorer for Huston-Tillotson (4-8, 0-2), which trailed 45-32 with 14 minutes remaining. Calhoun grabbed a game- and season-high 13 rebounds.

XULA was a Gulf Coast Athletic Conference member the previous 40 seasons.

Huston-Tillotson outrebounded XULA 50-37, but the Gold Nuggets were plus-9 in turnovers, committing 20 and gaining 29. Both teams’ field-goal percentages were in the low 30s.

It was the third time this season a XULA game was decided by less than three points. The other two games were against city rivals. The Gold Nuggets won 64-63 at Dillard Nov. 12 and lost 68-66 at home Nov. 23 against Loyola.

XULA will close a three-game homestand with a 2 p.m. Saturday matchup with RRAC member Our Lady of the Lake and a 5:30 p.m. Monday non-conference game against Mobile. No fans are allowed at XULA home games through Jan. 15 because of COVID-19.

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