NEW ORLEANS — Charles-Eddie Smith’s career-high 30 points Friday carried fifth-seeded Edward Waters to a 72-59 men’s basketball victory against fourth-seeded Xavier University of Louisiana in the opening round of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament at Dillard’s Dent Hall.
Smith, a junior guard/forward, scored 18 points in the final nine minutes of the first half — including four consecutive 3-pointers — to turn a 19-14 deficit into a 35-31 halftime lead. The Tigers (13-17) never lost the lead in the second half, and the final margin was their largest of the game.
Oshey Washington had 14 points and eight rebounds for Edward Waters, and Keith Williams scored 10.
Seth Jackson led the Gold Rush (10-20) with 13 points and four steals. Mike Williams scored 11 points, and Leland Alexander had 10 points and seven rebounds. Leading season scorer Jalen David, named second-team All-GCAC Thursday, had three points in 18 minutes.
Edward Waters outshot XULA 43.4 to 37 percent from the floor and made 20-of-26 free throws to the Gold Rush’s 15-of-22.
Jackson, a senior in his second season at XULA, played his final collegiate game. XULA’s other senior, Wesley Pluviose-Philip, missed the final 11 games due to injury.
Edward Waters defeated XULA for the first time since joining the GCAC in 2010. It was the Tigers’ first victory against the Gold Rush since Jan. 4, 1996. It was the teams’ first GCAC tourney matchup.
XULA, the GCAC Tournament runner-up in 2016 and 2015, finished with its first losing season and first 20-loss season since 1989-90, when it was 14-21.
In the other first-round games, third-seeded Talladega defeated sixth-seeded Tougaloo 93-89 in overtime, and second-seeded Philander Smith beat seventh-seeded SUNO 85-76. In Saturday’s semifinals at XULA’s Convocation Center, Philander Smith (14-12) will play Talladega (22-9) at 2 p.m., and defending champion and top-seeded Dillard (22-7) will play Edward Waters at 7 p.m. Dillard had a first-round bye.