ST. GEORGE – When you’re hot, you’re hot. Senior guard Jeremiah Barnes scored a career-high 22 points leading Dixie State College to a 94-73 home victory over Hawaii-Hilo at the Burns Arena Thursday.
Barnes hit 8-of-12 shots including three from long distance. The Red Storm (15-5, 8-2 PWC) had three others score in double figures – forward Griffon Jones had 15 points, Tom Whitehead scored 12 and Derek Owen, coming off the bench, added 10 points.
Hawaii-Hilo (14-9, 6-6 PWC) forward Justin Smith led four Vulcan scorers in double figures with 20 points.
The Vulcans stole a page from the Chaminade playbook spurting out to a 9-0 lead by making their first four shots. DSC chipped away with an 8-0 run before taking the lead for the first time, 13-12, minutes later.
Hilo led by as many as eight points coming out of the under-eight minute media time out only to see Dixie State snatch momentum with a 15-4 rally over five minute. The teams traded buckets until the break; the Red Storm took a 38-34 advantage into the locker room.
Dixie State increased their cushion to 12 points scoring eight straight points from the 15:50 mark to 11:58 remaining in the game. The run culminated in back-to-back layups from Owen and Brett Adams.
Tensions escalated within the run – after a jump-ball tie-up, senior center Everton Araujo fired an elbow toward UHH forward Brandon James. The blow did not connect, but the action got Araujo ejected from the contest.
Minutes later, center Solomon Jensen fouled out leaving DSC without two important post players.
Barnes went to work showing his shooting touch as the Vulcans closed within nine points under the eight-minute mark. He drained a three-pointer, slashed to the hoop for a lay-up, bombed another triple, connected on a jumper with a dwindling shot clock and fired in two free throws in just over three minutes.
The Red Storm shot an outstanding 64.3-percent from the floor in the second half, finishing the game 32-of-58 on the night (55.2%). The nation’s leading field-goal defense held UHH nearly 10 percentage points below their season average (21-63, 33.3%).
DSC committed nine turnovers – the first time all season with a single-digit tally in that stat.
Dixie State puts their five-game winning streak on the line Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when Hawaii Pacific University visits the Burns Arena.