NEW ORLEANS — Leland Alexander’s free throw with 3.9 seconds remaining in the second overtime Monday lifted Xavier University of Louisiana to a 77-76 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference men’s basketball victory against NAIA No. 22 Talladega.
Alexander was fouled as he attempted to catch an alley-oop pass from Donovan Armstrong at the rim. Alexander made the first free throw, but a lane violation voided his second attempt. Marcus Brown missed a 30-footer for the Tornadoes as time expired.
Armstrong, a freshman point guard, scored a career-high 24 points and made 13-of-18 free throws. Innocent Kukulu scored 14 points for XULA (10-18. 6-5), and Seth Jackson and Jalen David had 10 apiece.
Jordan Washington, No. 2 in NAIA Division I scoring average, had 26 points for the Tornadoes (20-9, 6-5). Brown scored 14.
Talladega scored the first 14 points — the Gold Rush did not score until the sixth minute — and led XULA 33-25 at halftime. The Gold Rush trailed until taking a 62-61 lead with 11 seconds remaining on Armstrong’s basket after rebounding his missed free throw. Brown forced overtime by making 1-of-2 free throws with two seconds remaining.
Armstrong’s two free throws with 27 seconds remaining in the first overtime tied the score at 70, then the Gold Rush extended the game when Elex Carter blocked a Keynan Gardner-Willis shot on the final possession of that period.
Some statistics were identical. Both teams were 25-of-57 from the floor (43.9 percent), both made 22 free throws, and both had 15 assists. Talladega was plus-5 in turnovers, and the Gold Rush outrebounded the Tornadoes 42-30.
XULA defeated Talladega for the second time in its last nine meetings. The Gold Rush avenged a 90-76 road loss to the Tornadoes from three weeks earlier. It was the first Gold Rush this victory in 12 attempts this season against ranked opponents.
“We’ve been putting in the time. The time and the effort to get better every day,” XULA coach Alfred Williams said. “That game was just a testament to us believing in the process and continuing to work through our situation. Guys stepped up in a big way. We need guys to step up and produce like they’re capable of doing.”
Kukulu made four 3-pointers, all after halftime, to set a XULA freshman season record with 49 made treys. Percy Bland (1988-89) held the previous mark of 48.
XULA is 3-0 in overtime this season, all in conference games. It was XULA’s first multiple-overtime game since March 8, 2014, and its first victory in a multiple-overtime game since Jan. 29, 2004.
Gold Rush seniors Jackson and Wesley Pluviose-Philip were honored in a pregame ceremony.
XULA will close its regular season in a GCAC game at 5 p.m. Saturday at Tougaloo. The GCAC Tournament will begin March 3 in New Orleans, with XULA playing host to the semifinals March 4 and the finals March 5.