Dillard Upends Xavier in Allstate Sugar Bowl Bleu Devil Classic park
The Dillard University men's basketball team continued one of the most impressive turnarounds in the nation on Saturday night as it defeated archrival Xavier in an overtime thriller at the Allstate Sugar Bowl Bleu Devil Classic. In the opener of the doubleheader, the Dillard women's basketball team was stopped by Xavier, 63-57.
The Bleu Devils won the men's showdown behind 24 points and 14 rebounds from junior Demetric Austin, but it was Jesse Ward who proved to the be the hero in overtime. The sophomore drained a three-pointer with under two minutes to go and then snagged the game-clinching steal with six seconds left in the contest. Morris Wright led the Gold Rush with 18 points. The game was played before a sold-out crowd at the Battlefield in Dent Hall.
Dillard, which won just five games last season, has posted an 18-10 mark to close the regular season as the most improved team in the NAIA. This was also the first win at home against the Gold Rush since 2001 and it gave the Bleu Devils wins over every team in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference this season.
In the women's match-up, Dillard freshman Alyssa Washington scored 15 points to go with four rebounds, two steals and two assists, but it wasn't enough as Xavier held on for a 63-57 victory. The Gold Nuggets were led by Whitney Gathright's 17 points and 11 rebounds.
The historic rivalry between the two schools began on Jan. 17, 1948 when the men's basketball teams first clashed on the hardwood. Saturday's meeting was the 133rd in history between the Gold Rush and the Blue Devils, with Xavier holding a 84-49 advantage. The schools first met in women's basketball action during the 1977-78 season. The Gold Nuggets and Lady Blue Devils have played 85 times with Xavier on top 64-21 in the all-time series.
Three players in the XU-DU men's series reached the NBA. Xavier's Donald "Slick" Watts played six seasons with three NBA teams from 1973-79. Watts was the first to lead the NBA in assists and steals in the same season (1975-76). Gold Rush teammate Bruce Seals played three NBA seasons (1975-78) after two seasons in the ABA. Dillard's George Johnson played 13 seasons with six NBA teams from 1972-86 and ranks 13th in the NBA with 2,082 career blocked shots. Johnson was a member of the Golden State Warriors' 1975 NBA championship team, and Seals played in the NBA Finals in 1978 with the Seattle SuperSonics.
The Allstate Sugar Bowl has established itself as one of the premier college football bowl games, having hosted 27 national champions, 88 Hall of Fame players, 47 Hall of Fame coaches and 17 Heisman Trophy winners in its 82-year history. The 83rd Allstate Sugar Bowl Football Classic, featuring teams from the Big 12 and the SEC, will be played on January 2, 2017. In addition to football, the Sugar Bowl Committee annually invests over $1.3 million into the community through the hosting and sponsorship of sporting events, awards and clinics. Through these efforts, the organization supports and honors over 25,000 student-athletes each year, while injecting over $2 billion into the local economy in the last decade.