NEW ORLEANS — The winner was the team with the final run.
That was Xavier University of Louisiana, whose 17-2 spurt during the last eight minutes clinched a 61-53 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference men’s basketball decision against SUNO at the Convocation Center.
The Gold Rush (6-11, 2-0) have won a season-high three in a row. A familiar theme in the streak: XULA allowed fewer than 60 points in regulation in every game.
“Our guys are buying in on defense,” XULA coach Alfred Williams said. “It’s been the key to our success.”
XULA’s final defensive stand brought it back from a 47-42 deficit. Season scoring leader Jalen David produced three steals during the rally, and there were six additional SUNO turnovers during that time.
The Gold Rush went ahead to stay with 5:12 remaining when David passed to freshman Mike Williams for a basket. Williams finished with 16 points and became the first this season to lead XULA in scoring in back-to-back games. He had four assists for the second straight game to equal his career best.
SUNO opened the game with an 8-1 run. XULA answered with a 30-5 run and led 31-16 at halftime. But the Knights (4-11, 1-2) regained the lead with a 21-3 run.
In addition to Williams, XULA’s other three season scoring leaders reached double figures. Seth Jackson scored 13, Leland Alexander had 11, and David had 10. Alexander grabbed a career-high-tying 11 rebounds in his team-leading third double-double this season and second in the last three games. David’s four assists were a career best.
“This was a really good team win for us,” Alfred Williams said.
Marcel Daniels scored 19 points and had six steals for SUNO, and Dominique Suggs scored 12. Daniels is a younger brother of XULA student assistant RJ Daniels, a four-year Gold Rush letterman from 2012-16.
XULA outshot the Knights 43.5 to 35.4 percent from the floor — 47.6 to 17.9 in the first half — and outrebounded them 34-29. It was the fifth consecutive game that the Gold Rush won the boards.
Next for XULA will be a GCAC matchup at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Convocation Center against Edward Waters. The Tigers are 3-1 in conference and won their last three, including a 90-75 home victory Monday against Talladega, the GCAC regular-season champion the past two years.
NOTES: For just the second time in its last seven home attempts, XULA swept a doubleheader against SUNO. The Gold Nuggets won 73-60 . . . Alexander grabbed nine first-half rebounds . . . Jackson is 10-of-14 from the floor the last two games, 3-of-3 on 3-pointers . . . SUNO coach Dale Valdery, who led the Gold Rush from 1990-2002, is 5-14 against his alma mater in nine seasons with the Knights.