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XULA defeats No. 13 OLLU for 5th straight victory (953 hits)

Essence Wells had a career-high-tying 18 points Saturday, and Xavier University of Louisiana produced its highest scoring second half of the season in a 70-65 women's basketball victory against NAIA No. 13 Our Lady of the Lake.

After trailing 31-27 at the break, the Gold Nuggets (5-2) outscored the Saints (5-4) 43-34 in the second half to extend their win streak to five games, XULA won for the third time in four days at its Convocation Center.

Wells, a sophomore guard, made 5-of-5 free throws in the 35th minute to give XULA a 60-56 lead. OLLU never got closer than four points in the final three minutes.

Ireyon Keith scored a season-high 12 points for XULA, and Gina Smith had season highs of 11 points and eight rebounds. Smith was 5-of-6 from the floor.

Francesca Patrick scored 16 points for OLLU, and Destinee King had 13 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, three blocks and four steals.

XULA's previous high point total in a second half was 35, and the Gold Nuggets never reached 30 points in five of their first six second halves this season.

"Our chemistry is getting better," XULA coach Bo Browder said. "Our guards are learing how to play with our post players, and we're just doing a better job of moving the ball on offense."

Quintianna LeShore's basket at 6:04 gave OLLU an 11-4 lead. But the Gold Nuggets answered with seven straight points, and the Saints led 17-14 by the end of the quarter. OLLU three times led by seven points in the second quarter, but a Wells 3-pointer — her third of the half — reduced the Saints' advantage to 31-27 at the break.

Mikayla Bates's back-to-back 3-pointers — her only scores of the game — keyed a 13-2 run that gave XULA a 45-38 lead at 3:35 of the third quarter. The Gold Nuggets led 51-47 through three after scoring 24 points, their most in a third period this season.

Smith's layup — her final points of the game — came after a Jayla Nichols pass and put XULA ahead to stay, 54-53, with 7:38 remaining.

OLLU outshot XULA 42.3 to 34.4 percent from the floor, and both team made six treys. Boosting the Nuggets were a season-high 22 free throws made in 30 attempts. The Saints were 15-of-24 of the line, but they faded there after going 8-for-8 in the first six minutes. The Gold Nuggets produced a double-digit and season-best rebound margin for the third straight game — they won the boards 46-32.

XULA will break for fall-semester academic final exams, then visit the University of New Orleans in an 11 a.m. game Dec. 14. Note that UNO has pushed up the tip-off time.

Posted By: Elynor Moss
Monday, December 4th 2017 at 12:09PM
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