NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Spring Hill College women's basketball team opened the 2011-12 regular season with a 64-54 non-conference loss at 16th-ranked Xavier University (La.) on Tuesday night at The Barn.
Xavier jumped out 2-0 in the first two minutes, but back-to-back steals by freshman forward Cassandra Mitchell of Apex, N.C., led to a bucket by junior guard Kristin Rogers of Ft. Walton Beach, Fla., and a 3-pointer by freshman point guard Bethany Collins of Apex, giving SHC an early 6-4 advantage.
The Badgers built out as much as 14-7 lead over the next six minutes of play, but Xavier steadied the ship and fought back to a 15-15 tie off a 3-point bucket at 8:01 left in the half.
Over the final three minutes of the period, the Nuggets found their range from long-distance and outscored the Badgers 14-11 to take a 35-28 bulge into the halftime locker rooms.
Xavier (2-0) expanded its lead to 41-33 just five minutes into the second half and to as much as 59-46 with six minutes remaining in the contest.
SHC rallied to cut the score to a 60-53 Xavier advantage with 1:30 on the clock, but the Nuggets managed to hold on for the 64-54 home victory.
Mitchell paced Spring Hill's offense with 16 points and five rebounds. The Badgers shot 42.2% (19-45) from the floor with a 33.3% (3-9) effort from the 3-point line.
Spring Hill out-rebounded Xavier 21-20, but lost the turnover war 16-15.
Xavier was paced by Keidra Hall with 18 points and nine rebounds while Jasmine Grant added 13 points and Brandi Young pitched in 10 points. The Gold Nuggets shot 46.6% (27-58) and were 5-of-14 (35.7%) from behind the 3-point line.
Spring Hill (0-1) returns to the Crescent City on Tuesday to face the University of New Orleans at 5 p.m.