Pilots advance to GCAC Championsip
March 04, 2007
NEW ORLEANS -- Blake Whittle scored 21 of his 22 points in the first half Saturday to lead LSU-Shreveport to an 82-66 men's basketball victory against Xavier in the semifinals of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Tournament at The Barn.
The Pilots (24-7), seeded third in the tournament, will host fifth-seeded Mobile (18-14) in the championship game at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Mobile upset top-seeded Tougaloo, ranked 23rd in NAIA Division I, 78-73 in the other semifinal. Tuesday's winner will receive the league's second automatic bid to the NAIA National Tournament, which will start March 14 at Kansas City, Mo.
Whittle made 8 of 12 shots in the first half, including four 3-pointers, to help LSUS take a 42-38 halftime lead. Xavier cut the margin to 47-44 with 17:21 remaining but never got closer.
Jamon Morris and Kyile Byrd scored 17 points apiece for LSUS, and Freddy Hughes scored 13. Byrd made five 3-pointers.
Mark Stewart scored 19 points, Shaun Dumas 17 and Olumide Olafioye 13 for second-seeded Xavier (21-9), which will be considered for an NAIA at-large bid. The Gold Rush was 0-3 against LSUS this season, and its only two losses in its last 16 games were to the Pilots.
LSUS outshot Xavier 46 to 43 percent from the floor and outrebounded the Gold Rush 37-29. The Pilots outscored the Rush 33-15 from behind the arc and 19-15 from the line.
The Pilots reached the GCAC championship game for the second consecutive season. They defeated Spring Hill 114-99 at LSUS in the 2006 final.
Xavier shared the GCAC regular-season championship with Tougaloo, but Tougaloo received the GCAC's first automatic bid to the NAIA tourney by winning a tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed in the conference tourney.