BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Derrick Gordon scored 17 points Saturday to lead Western Kentucky to a 73-61 men’s basketball victory against Xavier University of Louisiana.

It was the third consecutive year that the Hilltoppers, an NCAA Division I member, beat the NAIA-member Gold Rush in an exhibition, but this was the closest of the three. Western Kentucky won by 53 points in 2009 and by 15 points in 2010.

T.J. Price scored 12 points for WKU, and Nigel Snipes and Kahlil McDonald had 11 apiece. Snipes grabbed 11 rebounds.

Wanto Joseph had 11 points, four rebounds and three assists and was Xavier’s lone double-figure scorer. Kevin Miller had nine points and five rebounds, and Chris Iles and Renard Smith scored eight points apiece.

Xavier trailed 41-25 at halftime but outscored the Hilltoppers 36-32 in the second half. Iles made the second of two free throws with 3:28 remaining to cut WKU’s margin to 63-56, but the Hilltoppers scored six consecutive points to clinch the victory.

WKU outshot Xavier 41.1 to 40 percent from the floor, committed 13 turnovers and gained 27.

The Gold Rush had a 39-36 rebound advantage.

Xavier will stay on the road for a 7 p.m. Monday exhibition at seventh-ranked Vanderbilt.