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(New Orleans) Gold Rush guard Xavier Wright's three-pointer with 1:21 left Saturday afternoon ended Dillard's chance to steal a regular-season win at Dent Hall against its in-town rivals, and gave Xavier a 61-54 victory in the 2014 Bleu Devil Classic.
The win sealed the school's third consecutive regular-season championship. Even more important, Xavier earned a No. 1 seed in the GCAC tournament.
Next Friday, the Gold Rush, ranked 13th in the latest NAIA Division I Coaches' Top 25, will play the winner of Thursday's first-round game between Fisk and Dillard in the GCAC quarterfinals.
Xavier is co-hosting the tournament with Dillard.
The Bleu Devils (4-14, 0-12 GCAC) recovered from a 13-point deficit early in the second half to rally within four with 3:04 left. Senior Lance Theard, fouled on a three-point attempt, converted two of three free throws, trimming the deficit to 52-48.
Xavier's Anthony Goode followed with a score in the post, and added two free throws. Houston Chatman countered with a jump shot for Dillard.
That's when Coleman, double teamed in the post, found Wright open on the left side of the perimeter.
For Dillard, Chatman scored a team-high 17 points. Theard added 14 points.
"We're not a one-man team; individually, we're not that good," said Dillard coach Bernard Griffin, whose team lost its 13th consecutive game. "As a team, we can be pretty good and effective, if we stick to (the game plan)."
Xavier won its last four games of the regular season en route to a regular-season sweep of its in-town rivals.
Last season, Xavier, the top seed in the conference tournament, was ousted 59-56 by Dillard, the No. 8 seed, in the quarterfinals.
Ninth seed Dillard will host eighth seed Fisk University and 2014 GCAC Player of the Year Cameron Lewis on Thursday, March 6 at 7:00 p.m. at the Battlefield in Dent Hall Gymnasium in the play-in game of the 2014 GCAC Basketball Championships.
Special to the Advocate
*Photo provided by A. Williams