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|Feb. 27, 2016|
|Xavier (La.)||Indv. Leaders||Dillard University|
|#14 Morris Wright - 18||Points||#23 Demetric Austin - 24|
|3 Players - 7||Rebounds||#23 Demetric Austin - 14|
|#14 Morris Wright - 5||Assists||#32 Dennis Hightower - 7|
|Xavier (La.)||Team Statistics||Dillard University|
|49% (25 - 51)||Field Goals %||33.3% (21 - 63)|
|42.9% (3 - 7)||3 Point Field Goals %||14.3% (4 - 28)|
|58.8% (10 - 17)||Free Throws||70% (21 - 30)|
|0||2nd Chance Pts||16|
By Astasia Williams (SR/Baton Rouge, La.), Student Reporter
NEW ORLEANS - If you weren't in Dent Hall February 27th, 2016, you missed out on a historical event. To say the Battlefield was "packed" is an understatement. Tickets were completely sold out. I feel sorry for those who didn't get a chance to witness the best basketball game at Dent Hall.
I don't know which one was more entertaining; the battle on the court or the battle between the cheerleaders and dance teams. Either way, the fans received their money's worth. The Bleu Devils have not beaten the Gold Rush on their home court since 2001. The average age for a current Dillard student at that time, was 6-years-old. Outkast's "Ms. Jackson" and Destiny Child's "Independent Woman Pt. 1" were on the Top 100 Billboard Charts. So, you can say this win was more so an emotional win for everyone with ties to Dillard University.
Although, the win didn't come easy, The Bleu Devils' main struggle throughout the season has been simply shooting. Xavier, who finished 25-of-51 shooting for the night, completely outscored Dillard for the first half. Bleu Devils ended up 8-of-28 from the floor and 1-of-13 from 3 point range during the first half. In the second half, a different Bleu Devils team emerged. Eventually, this team realized that a berth in the NAIA tournament was at stake. Dillard's scoring was still slow in the second half, but their defense and rebounding kept the Gold Rush 9-of-27 in the second half. Demetric Austin (JR/Washington, D.C.) put the team on his back and had a game-high of 24 points and 14 boards.
With 18 seconds left on the clock, Montrey Thomas (FR/Shreveport, La.) scored to give the Bleu Devils a two point lead. However, Xavier wasn't quite ready to throw in the towel. Xavier's Garry Smith answered with the final point scored in regulation to tie the ball game 54-54 leading to overtime.
Jesse Ward (SO/Maringouin, La.) proved why he is special piece to this team's success. Ward silenced Xavier's fans as he hit a crucial 3-pointer with under two minutes left in overtime, extending the Bleu Devils lead to five. Ward made a huge defensive play with a steal from Gold Rush guard Morris Wright with six seconds left in OT. There was no chance for a comeback from Xavier after that. Note, Jesse Ward is a walk-on with a starting position, making a huge impact on this team. He is the player that has shining moments, but he's more so about creating those plays for his teammates as well.
With this win over Xavier, Dillard finishes with 18 wins (8-4 GCAC play) for the season. Now, with the GCAC tournament happening this weekend Coach Newell notes that, "records go out the window and everyone goes back to 0-0". In all of my years of attending Dillard, I have never been more proud to call myself a Bleu Devil. No matter what happens this weekend, this team has every reason to hold their heads up high. They are a part of history in redeeming a struggling program and turning it to a top-25 nationally ranked team in one season.
Astasia Williams is a senior multimedia journalism major at Dillard University and a member of the women's volleyball team. She holds memberships in National Association for Black Journalism (NABJ) and the Association for Women in Sports Media (AWSM).
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