Faulkner Upends Xavier, 67-63
The Eagles will meet second-seed Westminster (Utah) in the second round Friday at 12:30 p.m. EDT.
Brittney Carter paced the Eagles with her 25th double-double in 32 games this season, scoring 26 points and securing 14 rebounds, including 10 on the defensive glass.
Xavier led on three separate occasions in the first eight minutes of the game before Carter hit a pair of free throws to break an 11-11 tie. The charity shots sparked 13-3 run, including an 11-0 stretch, which the Eagles shot 71 percent from the floor. Spenser Cantrell capped the run with her only 3-pointer of the game to give Falkner its first double-digit lead, 24-14, with 6:39 remaining in the half.
The Gold Nuggets worked the game within four points, 24-20, scoring mostly from the free throw line. The Eagles responded with another run, this time, 11-4 to close the half up 13, 11-2.
In the first half, Xavier struggled from the floor, hitting only 5-of-23 field goal attempts (21.7 percent). Faulkner guard Christina Hayes, who finished the game with 19 points, had 10 at the break to lead all players.
Faulkner worked its lead as high as 19 points, 45-26, in the first four minutes of the second half. The Gold Nuggets built a 15-5 run to cut the margin to single digits, 50-41, on a 3 by Jessica Savannah. They continued to chip away, working it down to three, 52-49, with eight minutes to play.
The Eagles held off Xavier and maintained a two-possession lead for the next four minutes before, Xavier cut it to three points four more times, the last being a basket by SiMon Franklin with two minutes to play. Faulkner held on down the stretch as the Gold Nuggets' shooting woes continued, hitting 1-of-6 down the stretch to finish with a 32.3 shooting percentage. On average, Faulkner holds opponents to 32.5 percent shooting this season, the second best mark in NAIA DI.
Three Gold Nuggets scored in double figures. Franklin had 17, while Paige Gauthier had 13 and Danielle Tucker had 10.
Xavier finishes the season with a 24-6 record.