Xavier’s women’s basketball teams have spent most of the regular season trying to learn how to win close games, a feat that has proved elusive.

Until Saturday evening.

Whitney Gathright scored on a runner with 1:21 left and not long after, teammate Emoni Harvery recorded a game-clenching steal for the Gold Rush, the final moments of a 60-57 Gulf Coast Athletic Conference win against rival Dillard at the Convocation Center.

“About time,” said Xavier coach Bo Browler, whose squad has endured a frustrating season of ups and too many downs because of a lack of last-second heorics. “I’ve been waiting for my upperclassmen to step up. We did down the stretch, brought more energy and effort.”

When Browder’s antics were repeated to Gathright, she laughed. She finished with 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting.

“I just knew I didn’t want to settle for a three-pointer,” she said. “I wanted to get some points for the team.”

Vinne Briggs led Xavier with 16 points. Trana Hopkins came off the bench to add 13 points.

Xavier improved to 16-14 overall and 9-5 in the GCAC. Dillard dropped to 16-12 and 8-6. Last month, Dillard ended its losing streak to Xavier after 12 games, and had a chance Saturday to earn back-to-back wins in the local rivalty for the first time since 1984-85.

Meanwhile, both teams are preparing for next week’s quarterfinals of the GCAC tournament. The semifinals and finals will be held at Xavier.

“We have to take care the ball better,” said Ciara Morgan, who led Dillard with 11 points on 4-for-9 shooting. “In the tournament, you’re going to see us play better defense. We say that defense carries you, no matter what.”

Both are chasing Southern of New Orleans, which claimed the regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

Later Saturday, Xavier’s men beat Dillard 67-41 claiming its 19th of the past 21 games in the series.