NEW ORLEANS — Jayla Nichols had a memorable debut for Xavier University of Louisiana, and Kelsee Singleton continued her strong play in a 73-60 women’s basketball victory against SUNO Monday at the Convocation Center.
The victory was the fifth in a row and the eighth in nine games for the Gold Nuggets (11-6, 2-0 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference), who will conclude their home stand with a 3 p.m. GCAC game Saturday against Edward Waters.
Nichols, a sophomore guard from the Detroit suburb of Inkster, Mich., and a mid-year transfer from NCAA Division I Niagara University, led XULA with 13 points in 13 minutes and also had two assists, four rebounds and two steals. Nichols looked comfortable from the start, passing to Ireyon Keith for a 3-pointer, then making a trey of her own — both plays in her first 45 seconds of work.
“Jayla is an experienced guard who can finish around the basket,” XULA coach Bo Browder said. “She’ll be a big help to us in the second half of the season.”
Singleton, who scored a career-best 20 points against Tougaloo in her previous game, had 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a season-high three blocked shots. It’s the first time that the fifth-year senior reached double-figure points in back-to-back games.
“Kelsee has worked hard to get into this position,” Browder said. “I hope to see her continue to play at a high level.”
Singleton was a career-best 8-of-8 from the line — she’s made 22 of her last 23 free throws — and her five offensive rebounds were a career best. The blocks gave her sole possession of seventh place on XULA’s career list with 73.
Keith and Maya Trench scored nine points apiece. Trench had game highs of five assists and four steals.
Micah Brooks and Jophiea Irvin scored 14 points apiece for the Lady Knights (2-8, 0-3), who dropped their eighth in a row, and Briana Upshur scored 13. Brooks had 11 rebounds, three assists and three steals.
XULA trailed 29-22 before closing the first half with a 20-6 run. Although the Gold Nuggets never lost their lead in the second half, they didn’t seal their victory until a 10-2 run in the final 5 1/2 minutes.
SUNO outshot XULA 34.5 to 33.8 percent from the floor, but the Gold Nuggets were plus-13 in rebounds and plus-6 in turnovers. XULA made its first 15 free throws and finished 17-of-18 from the line, a season best for accuracy.
XULA’s Mikayla Bates grabbed eight rebounds to equal her career high.