Mid-way through the second half, the Southern University at New Orleans Knights cut the Xavier University of Louisiana Gold Rush lead down to four. Despite that, the Gold Rush went on to win by 16 points, 78-62.
“We were trying to work on our energy and intensity in this game,” said the Rush head coach, AJ Williams. “It’s hard when you’ve had a week off to withstand the energy needed to win, so I challenged them to come out and play. Do the small things. ”
Within thirty seconds of the game, Virgil Davison scored a three-pointer for the Rush, but then the Rush had a few sloppy turnovers the gave the Knights to lead. However, back-to-back buckets by Joseph Williams gave the Rush the 18-15 lead with 8:32 remaining in the first half.
And the Rush never looked back.
Following those buckets, the Rush went on a 10-2 run. With 5:47 remaining in the first half, the Rush were up 26-17. The end of the half was punctured by an alley-oop from Davison to Williams.
“I’m happy about the guys coming out and playing hard and competing at a high level and actually getting a win. It was a good road win for us,” Williams said.
Tonight’s road victory against the Knights was the tenth this season—to put it in perspective, in the past two seasons, the Rush have won a combined six games on the road.
Despite the fire first half from the Rush, the Knights refused to go down. At the 10:35 mark of the second half, the Knights had cut the Rush lead down to 9 points. Two minutes later, and the lead was down to four, prompting the Rush to call a timeout.
“We lost focus. Called a timeout to get them back together and told them, ‘Hey, come on, keep doing the things that helped us get the lead and the things that’s been helping us win,’” Williams said.
Once the Rush had settled, Williams said the guys “got back into it.” In the first half, the Rush allowed the Knights to get 8 offensive rebounds. In the second half, however, the Knights were only able to get one offensive rebound. In addition, the Rush had 17 assists for the game, which is two more than they usually average, Williams said.
One player that saw more minutes this game was the 6’8 freshman forward Galen Smith. The—according to Williams—skilled, versatile player will be needed down in the stretch, so it was huge to get him to play at tonight’s game.
“The more confidence he [Smith] has, the better for us,” Williams said.
The Rush were led in scoring by Davison, who led all scorers with 23 points. In their Feb. 5 game against Edward Waters College, Davison didn’t score a single point. Tonight’s points were the most he has made since the Rush won on the road Dec. 22, in which he scored 25 points.
Rayshawn Mart added a double-double, scoring 21 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. Mart’s 21 points were a career high, and his 11 rebounds tied his career high. This was his second double-double of the game.
Jalen David scored 14 points, and Williams added 9 points and 8 rebonds. Jeff Dixon contributed 7 of the team’s 17 assists.
Next, the Rush will host crosstown rivals, Dillard University, Feb. 17 in the Convocation Center at 5 p.m. Last time they played, the Rush lost in the last minute by one point, 70-69.
“The game at Dillard—everybody wasn’t expecting it to be a game like it was,” Williams said. “Our big fella, Joseph, went down—he went out with a concussion—and it kind of changed the game for us.”
Luckily for them, the Rush are healthier going into this game. Elex Carter, who sat today’s game out with an injury, will be ready to play, and Dixon will have some days to rest his fingers.
“We’ll be ready to rock’n’roll,” Williams said.
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