ST. GEORGE – A poor shooting night and a rash of turnovers doomed the Dixie State Men’s basketball team Tuesday night as the Red Storm fell to visiting Western Oregon, 67-52 at Burns Arena.
“Their zone press is really not designed to turn over the ball,” said Dixie assistant coach Ryan Sanchez. “It is more designed to limit our time at the offensive end. But we got a little impatient at times and they disrupted our passing lanes and were able to capitalize.”
The Wolves jumped out quickly with the first eight points behind two treys from Jordan Wiley and Andy Avgi. WOU would stretch the lead to 23-12 with 8:43 to play in the first half. Again it was Wiley and Avgi doing most of the damage. The Storm put together a 10-0 run over the next five minutes with contributions from four different players. Two quick 3-pointers from WOU’s Marwan Sarhan put the lead back to nine.
Dixie guard Trevor Hill got a steal and an assist to Zach Robbins to close the lead to five at 29-24 on the post move. But Avgi hit another 3-pointer to close the scoring for the half. Western Oregon’s long-range shooters hit at a 55 percent clip in the first half. Postmen Avgi and Sarhan were a perfect 5 for 5 from beyond the arc for the night.
Dixie center Zach Robbins entered the game only 22 points away from breaking Sanchez’s DSU all-time scoring record (1,052). He finished with 20 points, shooting 77 percent from the floor (7-9) and perfect from the line (6-6).
“It is probably better that I did not break the record tonight,” said Robbins. “I would much rather get it in a victory.” Robbins entered the game fourth, but passed Dalton Groskreutz and Tom Whitehead.
Robbins and DeQuan Thompson started the second half with consecutive baskets to halve WOU’s lead to four. But every Storm run was answered by one or two baskets from the Wolves, with several coming off turnovers. Dixie turned the ball over an uncharacteristic 20 times.
WOU stretched the lead to 11 with 14:09 to play on a layup by Adam Hastings. The Storm cut the lead to seven twice, both times on strong drives from Thompson. For the game, Thompson and Robbins shot a combined 67 percent. Those strong performances were offset by a combined 17 percent (6-36) from the rest of the team.
“We wanted to get the ball to Zach more than we did,” said Sanchez, unconcerned that his record would break. “(Western Oregon) did a good job limiting his opportunities. When we were able to get in our half-court offense, they fronted Zach and kept backside help behind him most of the game.”
WOU would extend the lead to double-digits once more and keep it there for the rest of the night. The Wolves not only slowed the Dixie offense, but also pulled the ball out in a controlled stall when they were at the offensive end. Several times an offensive rebound would result with even more time coming off the clock.
Returning to the court for the first time this season for DSU was junior wing Robbie Nielson. Neilson had been sidelined with a broken collar bone, but was cleared to practice Monday. He played 11 minutes Tuesday night.
“It was good to get back out there,” said Neilson. “The injury is completely healed and I think I have maintained my conditioning. The biggest thing is developing chemistry with the new guys and bringing high energy to the game.”
The Storm is still without Jordan Rex, last year’s starting center, likely for the season to an ACL injury.
“It is tough losing Jordan,” said Robbins. “(Incoming transfer) Mark (Ogden) and I have similar games, whereas Jordan and I complemented each other. I am used to playing at the four (power forward) but have had to adjust to the five position (center).”
For the game, Dixie shot 33 percent from the floor while the Wolves finished with a 44 percent clip. The Red Storm failed to score from beyond the arc, going 0-8, while WOU shot 44 percent.
The Red Storm did win the rebound battle 41-33, with two players in double-figures. Robbins and Ogden finished with 15 and 11 rebounds, respectively. Thompson joined Robbins in double-figure scoring with 11 points.
For the Wolves, Avgi led the way with 21 points. He was joined by Wiley and Sarhan with 12 points apiece.
Western Oregon improved its record to 3-2. With the loss, Dixie evens its record to 1-1. The Storm travel to Riverside, Calif., this weekend for the Cal-Baptist Tournament. They will face Cal-State Stanislaus on Friday before taking on Texas A&M-Commerce on Saturday. Both games are scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Stats: WOU 67, DSU 52
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