Xavier falls in GCAC final to Dillard, await Wednesday word from NAIA

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NEW ORLEANS — Jeff Dixon became the first Xavier University of Louisiana men’s basketball player in 10 years to score 30 points in a game. The Gold Rush shot 64.5 percent from the floor in the second half — 70.8 percent in the final 16 minutes.

Good stuff, but it wasn’t enough as city rival Dillard took advantage of 37 Gold Rush fouls and led wire-to-wire Sunday in an 86-71 victory in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament before 1,088 fans at XULA’s Convocation Center. It was the Bleu Devils’ third straight GCAC Tournament title and the Gold Rush’s fifth consecutive loss in the final — the third in the last four years — since it won the tournament in 1996.

XULA (24-8), ranked 25th nationally and the GCAC regular-season co-champion with Dillard, will receive strong consideration for an at-large bid to the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I National Championship at Kansas City, Mo. The 32 qualifiers and bracket will be announced Wednesday, and first-round games will be played March 14-15. Dillard (20-9), which is ranked 20th, earned the GCAC’s automatic bid.

Dixon, who finished with 30 points, was 12-of-18 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the line. His basket with 14 seconds remaining made the junior guard the first Gold Rush 30-point scorer since Mark Stewart’s 33 at Mobile in a GCAC Tournament semifinal victory on March 7, 2008.

Dixon, who leads NAIA Division I in total assists and assists per game, also had eight assists and six rebounds.

Virgil Davison scored 12 points in the final 3:45 to finish with 18, but XULA’s other two double-figure season scorers, Jalen David and Rayshawn Mart, combined for seven points and 2-of-13 from the floor.

Four starters from Dillard scored in double figures. Kristopher Allmon had 27 points — he made 16-of-17 free throws — Quinton Jackson had 24, Patrick Thompson scored 17, and Joshua Simmons had 11.

The 37 fouls were XULA’s most in a game in the last 14 seasons. Dillard made 35-of-48 free throws for the game, 25-of-33 in the second half. The Gold Rush made 13-of-19 free throws on 17 Dillard fouls.

Dillard scored the first six points and held its largest lead, 35-15, after Thompson’s basket at 4:09 of the first half. The Bleu Devils led 38-23 at halftime after outshooting XULA 50 to 34.8 percent from the floor, then maintained their double-digit advantage throughout the final period. XULA pulled to within 11 points three times, the last on Dixon’s 3-point play with 1:23 remaining.

Dillard improved its second-half shooting, too, hitting 55 percent from the floor to finish at 52.3. XULA’s game percentage was 51.9. The Gold Rush had a 27-25 rebound advantage, but Dillard was plus-8 in turnovers, committing 12 and gaining 20. Seven XULA turnovers, six in the first half, were the result of offensive fouls.

Davison and David were named to the five-member all-tournament team.

Dillard went 3-0 against XULA in a season for the first time since 1999-2000. The Gold Rush lead the series, which started in the late 1940s, 84-57, but Dillard leads 6-4 in postseason meetings.

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