By Ed Cassiere, Associate Athletics Director for Strategic Communications
NEW ORLEANS — Xavier University of Louisiana made 17-of-18 fourth-quarter free throws Wednesday — including its final nine in the final 1:56 — in a come-from-behind 62-53 women’s basketball victory against Philander Smith.
XULA (4-3, 1-1) earned its first league victory on the third day of Gulf Coast Athletic Conference group play.
Nia Bishop scored a season-high 21 points — 11 in the fourth quarter — and made 10-of-11 free throws for XULA, including all seven of her fourth-quarter attempts. Freshman Jaleah LaFargue had 10 points, five rebounds and three steals, Abryhia Irons had nine points and seven rebounds, and O.C. Mbakop Ngassam overcame early foul trouble to grab 10 rebounds, a career best, and block two shots.
For the game XULA made 26-of-30 free throws, 22-of-26 in the second half. It was a major turnaround from Tuesday, when XULA made only 9-of-20 in a 55-54 loss to Rust.
Irons and Nina German made 4-of-4 free throws apiece in the fourth quarter.
It was the first time since Nov. 5, 2016 — and the third time in the last 17 seasons — that XULA made 25 free throws and shot 85 percent in the same game.
“Our team showed some fight and bounced back nicely after a tough loss to Rust,” XULA head coach Bo Browder said. “I’m happy with this team’s approach to the game. They play together and play hard. If we can do that each game, we’ll be able to get some more wins in this tough conference.”
Bishop’s basket with 7:20 remaining put XULA ahead to stay at 42-40. The shot was part of a 17-4 run that erased Philander Smith’s 36-27 lead.
Rakia Lane, with 16 points, was the lone double-figure scorer for Philander Smith (1-3, 0-1). Vivian Imarenezor had seven assists, and Ineka Clark had nine rebounds, three blocks and three steals.
The game was the Lady Panthers’ first since Dec. 5.
In the second and final Wednesday game, Edward Waters got 27 points and 14 rebounds from Emari Bell to defeat Rust 72-66 in overtime. The Lady Tigers’ victory assured that none of the five women’s teams competing this week would finish unbeaten in this first segment of group play.