NEW ORLEANS, La. - The 12th ranked Xavier University (La.) Gold Rush slipped past a tenacious Spring Hill College men's basketball team by the score of 64-58 in a non-conference match at The Barn on Monday night.
A slow starting game found Xavier leading just 10-5 after 10 minutes of play in the first half as both teams struggled with turnovers and fouls before a layup and made free throw by Badger freshman forward Alex Looney from Mobile's Murphy High School gave SHC its first lead of the night at 15-14 with 6:52 to go in the period.
Spring Hill would fall back by five points late in the half, but four consecutive free throws by freshman center Blake Taylor of Jackson, Ala. over a 45-second span gave the advantage back to the Badgers at 25-24 with 1:36 remaining before intermission.
Junior guard Steve Edwards from Newton, Miss., drained a 3-point bucket with 45 seconds showing to post SHC to a 29-26 lead at the break.
The first 8-minute span of the second period was a see-saw affair as both teams traded shot-for-shot and the lead traded hands three times as XU held a 43-40 edge with 12 minutes to play.
Sparked by three Badger turnovers, the Gold Rush stretched out a 50-42 bulge with 9:45 on the clock before Looney stopped the run with a 2-point basket at 9:08. Edwards broke free for a fast break layup that he followed with a 3-point bucket a minute later to pull SHC to within 50-49 at the 8-minute mark.
Xavier clung to a 61-56 advantage with 1:30 remaining following a 3-point bucket by SHC junior guard Tyler Schwab from Panama City, Fla.
Senior center Nick Brown of Rota, Spain, then cut the deficit to 61-58 with two free throws at 1:04, but Xavier connected on 3-of-4 free throws over the final 28 seconds to close out the contest.
Edwards paced the Badger offense and tied his career-high with 21 points while Brown tallied eight points and now stands at 997 career points scored.
The Badgers finished the night shooting 42.6% (20-47) from the field and 7-of-19 (36.8%) from 3-point land.
XU held a 34-26 rebounding edge and took away six steals to force the Badgers into 14 turnovers.
Xavier's Cordell Hadnot paced the Gold Rush with 11 points and seven rebounds while Anthony Simmons added another 10 points for the home team.
The Gold Rush (16-2) shot 42.3% (22-52) from the field and 42.9% (6-14) from behind the 3-point arc. Xavier committed 19 turnovers and SHC took away seven steals.
Spring Hill (6-8, 1-1 SSAC West) returns to conference action on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Montgomery to face Faulkner University (5-12, 0-1 SSAC West) in a 4 p.m. tip off.