ST. GEORGE – Dixie State College men’s basketball team would be the first to admit they did not play up to their potential in the first half Saturday against Hawaii Pacific. The display in the second half, however, was completely different.
Playing stellar, shut down defense and hitting 16-of-25 shots propelled a comeback from as many as 12 points down en route to a 67-54 Pacific West Conference win for Dixie State (16-5, 9-2 PWC).
Hawaii Pacific (10-15, 5-8 PWC) connected on six three-pointer in the opening half, but fell flat offensively over the final 20 minutes.
Senior guard Jeremiah Barnes once again led the Storm offense with 18 points. Tom Whitehead chipped in 15 points and nine rebounds.
“Honestly, I don’t like being pushed around,” Barnes said postgame. “I felt like we were pushed around in the first half and Coach (Judkins) always says ‘No one should out hustle us in our place.’ We had to step up.”
HPU seized control early in the first half with a 12-2 run after Dixie opened with two buckets. A Nick Frazier three-ball pushed the lead up to eight, 29-21, with 3:34 left.
The Storm surged over the next minute with five straight points. Whitehead connected on the team’s only triple of the half and sophomore forward Derek Owen kissed one off the glass to pull DSC within three.
The Sea Warriors did not back down. A pair of three-pointers over the final minute of the half drove the lead to 35-26 at the half.
HPU hit their first triple of the second half to lead by 12; Dixie State had enough.
A 12-0 run over four minutes gave the Red Storm their first lead since the opening minute. Four straight lay-ups began the rally then Barnes his a jumper cutting the HPU lead to one. Off a steal, Whitehead brought the crowd to a resounding roar with a dunk capping the run.
With the score 51-49 at the 7:04 mark, Storm guard McKay Massey drove for a layin and swished a jumper in the momentum changing 10-0 spurt. DSC hit seven free throws down the stretch to ensure victory.
Adrian den Dulk was the only Sea Warrior in double figures with 10 points. Jason Jackson had eight points and 10 rebounds.
Dixie State closes out their home schedule on Wednesday with Notre Dame de Namur University. Tip time is 7:30 p.m. inside the Burns. Prior to the game, the team will honor its six seniors with a pre-game ceremony.
NOTES: Head coach Jon Judkins is three wins away from 100 in the DSC tenure (97-66, six years)… Everton Araujo sat out the game serving a one-game, class-A suspension for throwing a flagrant elbow in Thursday’s game against Hilo. He will be back in uniform Wednesday against NDNU… Senior forward Brett Adams played a season-high 23 minutes in Araujo’s absence.