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 Nuggets will open with 8 consecutive games in new arena
 October 11, 2012


     NEW ORLEANS — The Xavier University of Louisiana women's basketball team will test its new home early and often.
      The Gold Nuggets will open the 2012-13 regular season with eight consecutive games in the Convocation Academic Center, which is nearing completion for a Nov. 3 basketball doubleheader debut. XU athletics director Dennis Cousin announced the Nuggets' schedule Thursday.
      It's the first time that the XU women have opened with that many consecutive home games. It's also the first time that the Gold Nuggets played eight in a row at home at any time in a season since 2001-02.
      Xavier — 26-9 last season, the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament champion and No. 16 in the final NAIA Division I coaches poll — will visit LSU in a Nov. 1 exhibition, then help christen the CAC with a 3 p.m. game against Johnson & Wales (Fla.) two days later. The Johnson & Wales game will follow a 1 p.m. men's game between Xavier and Morehouse. Tailgating and a ribbon-cutting will precede the doubleheader.
      The Gold Nuggets, 243-22 the past 19 seasons at The Barn, a 1,300-seat gymnasium which opened in 1937, hope to continue their home dominance in the new arena, which features 3,817 permanent seats for athletics events. Seventeen of 28 regular-season games will be at home.
      "The Barn has been great to us," said Bo Browder, in his 14th year as head coach. "But I've always believed our success has been more about the young ladies we've been blessed to be able to put on the court. We're looking forward to moving to a great new arena and putting our stamp on it."
      Xavier closed its tenure at The Barn with 10 consecutive victories. The Nuggets' current home win streak in conference is 22.
      Four of Xavier's first eight home opponents — Westminster (Utah) on Nov. 17, LSU-Shreveport on Nov. 19, Langston on Nov. 22 and city rival Loyola on Dec. 5 — qualified, like the Nuggets, for the 2012 NAIA Division I National Championship. Xavier has been a fixture at the national tournament, qualifying for it 16 times in the past 18 seasons.
      For the seventh consecutive season and the 11th time overall, the Gold Nuggets will play host to the Xavier Classic, with games on Thanksgiving and the day after. Xavier will play Langston and Texas College in that event.
      Also visiting Xavier on Jan. 2 will be Bethel (Tenn.), an NAIA tournament qualifier three consecutive seasons from 2009-11.
      First-time XU opponents will be Johnson & Wales, Westminster, Bethel and Faulkner. Xavier will play Faulkner — a third-year program but a 20-game winner each of the past two seasons — Dec. 29 on the second and final day of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Huntingdon College's Roland Arena in Montgomery, Ala. On the previous day the Nuggets will play Belhaven, another 2012 NAIA tournament qualifier.
      Xavier will open defense of its GCAC championship Jan. 5 at Edward Waters. The GCAC changed its times this season for Saturday conference doubleheaders. After a longtime policy of 5 and 7 p.m. tip-offs, Saturday start times will be 3 p.m. for women's games and 5 p.m. for men's. The GCAC allows changes to starting times by mutual agreement of the competing schools, and four times this season the Gold Nuggets will play the second game in conference doubleheaders — Jan. 19 at home against Philander Smith, Jan. 21 at home against Fisk, Feb. 2 at home against Talladega and Feb. 9 at Philander Smith.
      SUNO will visit XU on Jan. 14, and Dillard will visit on Feb. 23 in the regular-season finale. The Gold Nuggets' road games against their GCAC city rivals will be Jan. 26 at Dillard and Feb. 16 at SUNO.
      After two years in Jacksonville, Fla., the GCAC Tournament will be played Feb. 28-March 2 in Little Rock, Ark. The tournament winner will earn an automatic bid to the NAIA tournament in Frankfort, Ky. Xavier seeks its fourth consecutive GCAC Tournament championship.
      This will be the Gold Nuggets' 35th season of the Title IX era.