Talladega tops Nuggets to win 1st GCAC Tourney title

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NEW ORLEANS — Jasmine Lee-Stackhouse scored 16 points Sunday, and NAIA No. 25 Talladega limited Xavier University of Louisiana to its fewest points in more than two years in a 59-42 women’s basketball victory in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament at XULA’s Convocation Center.

The top-seeded Lady Tornadoes (22-8) earned their first GCAC Tournament title and secured the league’s automatic berth to the NAIA Division I National Championship at Billings, Mont. Pairings will be announced Wednesday, and the tournament will begin March 15.

Stackhouse, a 6-foot-1 junior forward/center, scored nine third-quarter points, seven on second-chance plays, to help Talladega extend its lead to 43-37 by the end of that period. The Lady Tornadoes outscored the Gold Nuggets 16-5 during a fourth quarter in which XULA went 0-of-19 from the floor.

Tasheba Henry scored 14 points and Sashanique Youngblood 10 for Talladega, and tournament MVP Tajanee Wells had nine points and a game-high nine rebounds.

Third-seeded XULA (19-13) was led by a pair of senior centers. Kelsee Singleton had 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, and Bianca Brown had nine points and seven rebounds.

Talladega led the final three quarters, including 25-21 at halftime. The Lady Tornadoes limited the Gold Nuggets to a season-low 25.4 percent from the floor and their fewest points since a 53-42 loss at Dillard on Jan. 31, 2015. XULA scored the second-fewest points ever in a GCAC Tournament final.

Talladega shot 39.6 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Gold Nuggets 41-36 for the game, 25-14 in the second half.

Joining Wells on the all-tournament team were Lee-Stackhouse, Henry, Singleton, Brown and XULA’s Mikayla Bates. Wells, a senior forward, was named GCAC Player of the Year last week.

Talladega will make its third trip and second in a row to the NAIA’s national tournament. XULA, a qualifier for nationals 19 of its previous 22 seasons, is not expected to earn an at-large bid after failing to garner any votes in the last three national coaches polls. The Gold Nuggets entered Sunday’s game seeking their sixth GCAC tourney title in eight years. They defeated Talladega in the 2012, 2014 and 2016 finals.

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Ed Cassiere

Ed Cassiere

Sports Information Director, Xavier University of Louisiana

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