Lady Panthers beat Nuggets with 4th-quarter rally

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Philander Smith made 8-of-8 free throws in the final 1:39 Saturday to rally for a 66-62 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference women’s basketball victory against NAIA No. 20 Xavier University of Louisiana.

Donyeah Mayfield scored 16 points, Whitney Gathright 11 and Alesha Smith nine for the Gold Nuggets (14-7, 3-2), who will play GCAC leader and 19th-ranked Talladega at 5:30 p.m. Monday at Xavier’s Convocation Center.

Trana Hopkins’ 3-pointer — Xavier’s only trey of the second half and final field goal of the game — gave the Gold Nuggets their largest lead, 55-50, with 6:50 remaining. But Philander Smith (11-9, 3-4) scored the next six points and took the lead for good, 62-60, on Juquecia Chaney’s two free throws at 1:05. Jasmine Bush missed a 2-pointer on the next Xavier possession, and Chaney made two more free throws with 25 seconds remaining for a 64-60 advantage.

Four Philander Smith starters scored in double figures. Tamara Heard had her first career double-double, 15 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. Chaney scored 13 points, Tiffany Richardson 11 and Brittany Leonard 10. Heard and Leonard played all 40 minutes.

The teams were tied at 19 after the first quarter and at 31 at halftime. Xavier led 48-46 through three quarters.

Philander Smith outshot Xavier 40.8 to 36.2 percent from the floor, 36 to 31.3 percent in the second half. Xavier was 0-of-9 from the floor in the final six minutes. The Lady Panthers made 22-of-29 free throws to Xavier’s 16-of-23.

Bush grabbed a career-high eight rebounds for Xavier, and teammate Kelsee Singleton tied her career best with five blocked shots.

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