NEW ORLEANS – On Monday, November 5, Xavier’s Gold Rush took on William Carey’s Crusaders. It was an intense game. Players were dripping with hard work and the fans were on their feet. The odds were stacked against us. Xavier, ranked 23rd, going against Carey, ranked 10th. Things started out rough. Our players were shooting 52% field goals, but the Crusaders were putting up a mighty fight. The lead switched back and forth between the Gold Rush and the Crusaders, and by halftime, the score was 38-33, with the Crusaders leading.
When the second half started, everyone became pumped. The dancers were snatching wigs with their moves and the cheerleaders had all eyes on them while tumbling. The game had begun, and that Xavier determination came out in every player. They were not going home without a win. Players began shooting off of the dome. With Ed Carter making four 3-pointers, Johnell Lane scoring three 3-pointers, and William Loyd racking up 11 points, the game started looking up. We were back in this. We built a lead, but Carey tore it back down. Right when the Gold Rush would lead by seven points, the Crusaders would come and take over.
Thanks to William Carey’s Brandon Cranford and his 5-of-7 3-pointers, they were able to stay in the game. With time winding down, and the lead changing so much, no one knew who was going to come out victorious. There was one minute left, and the Gold Rush was up by two. Everything was looking up, all we had to do was hold the lead. The men were doing great until a rebound made by Crusader Branden Sheppard lead to a 3-pointer by none other than Brandon Cranford, lifting William Carey to lead 73-72. By this point, there are only 21 seconds left. Xavier calls for a timeout, and each team made a number of substitutions.
When the game continued, the Gold Rush waited to run down the clock. 10 seconds left, and the ball is moving around. 7 seconds left, and Ed Carter has the ball. Carter had been making over 50% of his shots, so the fans started cheering, knowing that the ball was going to go in. Right when it looked like the game was over, the ball bounced back out. With 2.7 seconds remaining, Rayshawn Mart, a sophomore, grabs the offensive rebound and dunks, lifting Xavier to a 74-73 victory against William Carey. The crowd goes wild, cheerleaders are jumping up and down the court, and the Xavier basketball team is at the end of the court in a huge dog pile. It’s the end of the game and The Xavier University of Louisiana men’s basketball team has just stretched their winning streak to 4-0.