Rush defeat ranked opponent for 2nd consecutive day

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NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana used a late first-half surge Saturday to spark a 71-49 men’s basketball victory against Florida Memorial.

It’s the first time since January 2002 that the Gold Rush (2-0) won consecutive games in the same season against ranked opponents. Florida Memorial (1-1) is ranked 14th in NAIA Division II. XULA won 75-73 Friday at St. Thomas, ranked 20th in NAIA D2.

XULA was 1-11 against ranked opponents last season.

“Still have a long way to go, but we’re taking some positive steps,” second-year XULA coach Alfred Williams said. “Our guys are buying into their roles. It’s coming together.”

XULA trailed 20-13 through 13 minutes, then made five 3-pointers — two apiece by Jerry Gibson and Jeff Dixon — during an 18-2 run that gave it a 31-22 halftime lead. The Lions never got closer than five points in the second half, and XULA led by double digits for the final 9:28.

Jalen David scored 15 points, Dixon 14 and Virgil Davison 12 for XULA. Davison scored all his points in the second half, all on 3-pointers. Elex Carter grabbed eight rebounds, and David and Galen Smith had six apiece. Dixon had four assists, and Donovan Armstrong had three.

Omar Outar scored 13 points, and Travis Mitchell had 11 points and seven rebounds for Florida Memorial.

Gibson scored all eight of his points in the first half and did not miss a shot.

XULA limited Florida Memorial to its fewest points at home in nearly three years. The Gold Rush outshot the Lions 41.2 to 26.2 percent from the floor.

“This group has a chance to be one of the best defensive teams we’ve had in a long time,” Williams said. “Their intensity level and basketball savvy are high. They understand what other teams are trying to do against them. They play together and swarm around the ball.”

XULA finished with 12 3-pointers, its most in a victory since February 2008. Dixon made three treys, and David made two.

XULA will be back on the road next Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. matchup with LeMoyne-Owen of NCAA Division II. The home opener will start at 7 p.m. Nov. 6 against another NCAA D2 member, Miles, at the Convocation Center.

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