Men's Basketball Championship Photo Gallery (All images courtesy of Yamlak Tsega, Xavier University Athletics)
NEW ORLEANS— The campaign for the championship came to an end as winners were crowned on both the men's and women's sides at the 2017 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference (GCAC) Basketball Tournament. Held at Xavier University's Convocation Center, the finals matchups on the men's and women's sides didn't disappoint. This year's tournament featured high-octane 2016 tournament rematches between the no. 1-seed Talladega Lady Tornadoes and no. 3-seed Xavier Lady Gold Rush, and no. 1-seed Dillard Bleu Devils against the no. 2 seed Philander Smith Panthers.
Women's Basketball Championship Photo Gallery (All images courtesy of Yamlak Tsega, Xavier University Athletics)
Game 1: (1) Talladega def. (3) Xavier, 59-42
The Talladega Lady Tornadoes defeated the Xavier University Lady Gold Rush in dramatic fashion as they clinched the 2017 GCAC Conference Championship.
A spirited Lady Tornadoes team got out to a small lead in the opening minutes and never let up, going on to lead by 6 going into the fourth quarter. The Lady Tornadoes controlled the second half, putting up 18 points in the 3rd quarter and 16 in the 4th quarter. The Lady Tornadoes' largest lead came in the 4th quarter, as they led Xavier by 17 points.
Talladega freshman Jasmine Lee-Stackhouse put up an inspired performance with 16 points. Guard Tasheba Henry had 6 rebounds and scored 14 points for the Lady Tornadoes, while Shana Zeigler had four assists. Talladega would end the season at 22-8.
For the Lady Gold Rush, Bianca Brown and Jordan Coleman both scored 8 points. Kelsee Singleton put up 8 rebounds and scored 11 points. Xavier ended the season at 19-13.
Five student-athletes were selected for All-Tournament Honors. Xavier's Mikayla Bates, Bianca Brown and Kelsee Singleton received the distinction for the Gold Rush, while Tasheba Henry and Jasmine Lee-Stackhouse were honored on behalf of Talladega.
Talladega's Tajanee Wells was selected as the 2017 GCAC Tournament Most Valuable Player.
Game 2: (1) Dillard def. (2) Philander Smith, 86-65
A year removed from their 2016 tournament win, the Dillard Bleu Devils came out with a chip on their shoulder and ready to prove they're the real deal. Following a heartbreaking loss to Philander Smith during the regular season, the Bleu Devils electrified the Xavier University Convocation Center with a near-perfect performance.
The Bleu Devils leapt out to an early lead in the first quarter, as Forward Jalen McGaughy dominated the PSC defense, putting up 16 points. The Bleu Devils outscored their opponents 43 to 31 in the first half. Though the game would tighten after the half, the Panthers would trail the Bleu Devils by at least 9 for the remainder of the game. The Bleu Devils end their regular season at 24-7
The Panthers took the fight to the Bleu Devils until the final seconds of the game. Braylon Spicer led the team with 12 points, while Daldric Sergent had 8 rebounds. Christopher Journet rallied the team in the 4th quarter, but it wasn't enough for Philander Smith to overcome a more than 20-point deficit. The Panthers end the season at 15-13.
Five male GCAC student-athletes were named All-Tournament. Christopher Journet, and Braylon Spicer were selected for Philander Smith College. Dennis Hightower, Quinton Jackson and Jalen McGaughy were selected for Dillard University.
Demetric Austin of Dillard University earned the Most Valuable Player spot, with 10 points and 13 rebounds.
Both the Bleu Devils and the Lady Tornadoes advance to the NAIA National Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., held March 15-21 at the Municipal Auditorium.