No. 1 Yotes eliminate Gold Rush in NAIA second round

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CALDWELL, Idaho — Top-ranked College of Idaho, sparked by advantages in made 3-pointers and free throws, defeated Xavier University of Louisiana 76-61 Wednesday in the 2023 NAIA Men’s Basketball National Championship Second Round, presented by Ballogy.

The Gold Rush, a qualifier for nationals for the fourth straight season and the 15th time in 19 seasons, finished 23-9.

The Yotes (32-1) made nine 3-pointers to XULA’s three and made 19-of-28 free throws to the Gold Rush’s 8-of-15. But XULA had a 25-24 advantage in made field goals, and both field-goal percentages were in the low 40s.

College of Idaho, winner of 32 straight overall and 38 in a row at home, will advance next week to Kansas City, Mo., and the round of 16. XULA was trying to win twice in the tournament for the first time in 50 years.

Jake O’Neil had game-highs of 21 points and 11 rebounds for College of Idaho.

Cory Wells scored 14 points for XULA, and Xavier Reaves had 12 points and nine rebounds.

XULA’s Jeremy Lindsey scored the first four points, but the Yotes answered with a 17-2 run and led 39-25 at halftime. The Gold Rush cut a 22-point second-half deficit to seven, then the Yotes pulled away again.

Attendance was 2,219, the largest to watch a XULA game this season.

Also advancing to the final 16 were LSU-Shreveport — a 79-63 loser to XULA in the Red River Athletic Conference Tournament final 10 days earlier — Tougaloo, St. Thomas (Fla.), William Penn, Montana Tech, Southeastern (Fla.), Ottawa (Ariz.), Grace, Freed-Hardeman, Georgetown (Ky.), Langston, Arizona Christian, Morningside, Jamestown and Indiana Tech.

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