ST. GEORGE – DeQuan Thompson delivered a thundering dunk off an alley-oop pass from Kimball Payne to deliver a message tonight. “Dixie basketball is back.”
The message, delivered symbolically and verbally by Thompson, was heard loud and clear during the Red Storm’s 86-73 victory over the Academy of Art University Thursday night. “We have been struggling a bit on the road, not playing the defense we are capable of. Tonight we wanted to get back to our early season form.”
The dunk came with 4:47 to play against the Academy of Arts University and put the Red Storm up 24. The excessive hanging on the rim also brought a quick technical foul. But fans were still on their feet cheering ecstatically from the electrifying play during the foul shots. “Coach did not like the technical, “ said Thompson. “But I think it was worth it.”
The Urban Knights came out strong, matching Dixie basket for basket for the first eight minutes. A 3-pointer by AAU leading scorer Alex Carmon pulled the Knights within one, 19-18, at the 11:32 mark of the first half. Dixie’s Louis Garrett’s responding three began an 11-0 run. Five different players scored baskets during the run and at the 6:14 mark, DSU had a 30-18 lead. The Red Storm did not let up as the defense held AAU to a paltry 31-percent shooting in the first half. The Knights connected on only 10 of 32 shots and were looking at a 44-27 deficit at halftime.
“Defend, rebound and run,” said Dixie head coach Jon Judkins. “We emphasize those fundamentals in that order. In the first half tonight we did all three of those very well.”
DSU out-rebounded the Knights 25-18. Thompson and Robbins led the Red Storm with 14 and 10 points in the first half.
AAU was able to match the Red Storm’s intensity the first five minutes of the second half as Carmon took control of his team’s offense with three baskets. The Knights were not able to make up ground though, and still trailed 54-35 with 15:19 to play. Mason Sawyer then started another run with a trifecta of his own as the Red Storm outscored AAU 15-6 for their largest lead of the night, 28 points, at the 11:03 mark in the second half. Louis Garrett and Landon Clegg also nailed 3s during the run.
Carmon would not let his team go down without a fight. He scored 10 points and assisted on two other baskets to pull the Knights to within 17 points with seven minutes to play. Dixie responded with a 7-0 run, capped with Thompson’s rim rocker.
“Kimball (Payne) pushed the ball and as he pulled up Zach (Robbins) cut through the lane,” said Judkins. “That drew DeQuan’s man from him. I thought the pass was too high.”
“I thought Kimball was throwing the ball to me,” said Robbins with a smile. “I turned around just in time to see DeQuan on the way down.”
Dixie outscored AAU 17-0 on the fast break and 18-4 on second-chance points. The Red Storm also got 38 points from its bench.
Carmon led all scorers with 25 points. He was joined in double-figures by Alexis Moore with 18, Sergio Valdeolmillos with 11 and Aaron Anderson with 10.
Thompson led Dixie with 19. Robbins recorded his seventh consecutive double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds. Reserves Garrett and Curtis Papenfuss scored 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Ten Red Storm players logged 10 minutes or more of game action. Over the last four minutes, AAU shaved 11 points off the final deficit ending in an 86-73 win.
“They actually outscored us the second half,” said Judkins. “We go 10 deep. And no matter who is on the floor, we have the same expectations of play. We need to do better on finishing games.”
The Knights drop to 4-15, 2-10 in the Pac West Conference. Dixie improves to 15-3, 9-3 in the conference. The Red Storm will host Dominican University on Saturday night. The Friars are on a three-game winning streak with wins over Chaminade and Point Loma.
“They are playing good basketball right now,” said Judkins. “We have not faced them yet this year and it will be a good test for us.”
Stats: DSU 86, AAU 73
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