Tougaloo defeats XULA by one point again

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TOUGALOO, Miss. — Karl Johnson and Jaylen Lester combined for all the points in an 11-2 second-half rally that lifted Tougaloo to a 54-53 men’s basketball victory Wednesday against Xavier Louisiana of Louisiana.

The Bulldogs (3-9) finished last in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular season at 0-6 but beat XULA (10-4) for the second time in two weeks by one point in a non-conference matchup. These teams will meet a fourth time Feb. 24 at XULA in the opening round of the GCAC Tournament.

Rayshawn Mart scored 13 points and Makye Richard 10 for XULA.

XULA, the GCAC’s second-place team, led 39-31 after Mart’s basket with 12:56 remaining and 46-41 after a Cory Wells basket at 8:19. But the Bulldogs rallied and took the lead for good on Johnson’s basket at 4:23.

Two free throws by Antwan Beans gave Tougaloo a 54-51 lead with 44 seconds remaining. Corey Dunning’s basket for XULA with 31 seconds remaining made it 54-53. A TJ Jones steal with six seconds remaining gave XULA one more opportunity, but those hopes soured after a missed shot, an offensive rebound and a turnover.

Johnson led Tougaloo with 16 points, and Datavian Porter scored 11.

The teams were tied at 25 at halftime.

XULA outshot Tougaloo 40.4 to 33.3 percent from the floor, but the Bulldogs dominated at the line, making 22-of-26 free throws to XULA’s 5-of-10. Both teams struggled from long range, with XULA making 2-of-19 3-pointers and Tougaloo 4-of-17.

It was the second consecutive game that XULA made 5-of-10 free throws, and XULA’s two made 3s were a season low.

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