NEW ORLEANS, La. ( – The Talladega Tornadoes may reside in Alabama, but they’ve made themselves quite at home in New Orleans. Talladega has won 12 straight games in the Crescent City, including today’s 76-58 win over Xavier that gave the Tornadoes their second consecutive Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Championship.

Talladega (29-4), the No. 1 ranked team in the country, went 16-1 against GCAC foes this season.

Tournament MVP Shondel Stewart scored 20 points and Brandon Peters added 19 points, going 15-17 from the free throw line to help seal the victory in the final minutes.

The Tornadoes shot 50 percent from the floor and harassed the Gold Rush into 39 percent shooting, allowing Xavier to make just 19 of 48 field goals.

Courtney Mack and Wendell Pierre also reach double figures for Talladega, scoring 14 and 13 points respectively.

Talladega came into the tournament winners of their first outright regular season title and have just three conference losses over the last two seasons.

Xavier (25-9) will have to wait another year to end its tournament championship drought. The Gold Rush have not won the postseason tournament since 1996.

The first half was very tight with Talladega heading to the locker room with a slight 30-28 advantage. In the second half turnovers, foul trouble, and errant shots doomed any chance of an upset.

Talladega went to the free throw line 41 times, converting on 31 attempts.

The second-seeded Gold Rush were buoyed by Sydney Coleman and Morris Wright. Coleman had a remarkable run, making his first 21 shots of the tournament before missing his final three. He finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. Wright made some huge three point baskets early on and Talladega never really found an answer for his scoring. He had a game-high 21 points to go along with seven rebounds.

Talladega earns the conference’s automatic bid to the Buffalo Funds-NAIA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, held in Kansas City, Mo., beginning March 18.

2015 GCAC All-Tournament Team
Sydney Coleman, Xavier
Teviin Morris, Philander Smith
Brandon Peters, Talladega
Shondel Stewart, Talladega
Morris Wright, Xavier

GCAC Tournament MVP
Shondel Stewart, Talladega


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