ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State men’s basketball team bounced back from a supersonic start by the visiting Fresno Pacific University Sunbirds to win 88-77 in a Pacific Coast Conference match-up Saturday afternoon in the Burn’s Arena.
“Our team defense was really not that bad,” said Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins. “Our individual on-ball defense needed improvement, but we told our guys that they would not continue shooting like they did.”
The Sunbirds got balance scoring from several players in the run to start the game. FPU guard Gabe Solarin led the charge with seven points. Dixie post player Zach Robbins, who had a huge height advantage, kept the Red Storm within striking distance, scoring 8 of Dixie’s first 13 points.
“They could not miss to start the game,” said Robbins. “We knew though that if we kept up the intensity and closed out on their shooters, that they would cool off.”
The 11-point Sunbird lead would not last long.
Dixie went on a 10-0 run with four different players scoring. With 9:30 remaining in the first half, the FPU lead had been trimmed to one, 24-23. The teams traded baskets over the next three minutes. At the 6:12 mark the Sunbirds still led by the slimmest of margins, 34-33.
The Red Storm then surged ahead with a 14-0 run. Again several players contributed. Six different players scored to give Dixie a 47-34 advantage with two minutes to play. Dixie would close out its scoring in the first half with two 3-pointers from Mason Sawyer, the second one coming as time expired from 35 feet.
“There was a scramble for the ball and it ended up in my hands,” said Sawyer. “”Zach (Robbins) said to shoot it, so I did. And as soon as it left my hands I knew it was going in.”
Sawyer’s trey completed a 40-13 run to close the half to lead 53-37. During the run, FPU shot only 42 percent, missing all six of their 3-pointers.
The Red Storm came out in the second half and played with good offensive efficiency, totaling 22 assists on 34 baskets for the game. “We had pretty good ball movement,” said Sawyer. “Our offensive sets put our shooters in good positions to score.”
FPU leading scorer Jeff Amazan, who sat out the first half, gave the Sunbirds a needed boost in the second half. However DSU still pushed the lead to 20 points several times, the last at 73-53 with just under 10 minutes to play.
“I told the team at halftime that they would see (Amazan) in the second half,” said Judkins. “Because they had the deficit, we expected him to try to do too much. We told our guys to keep him in front, to contain him. We were able to limit his effectiveness.”
The Sunbirds did go on a run to end the game, but never seriously threatened as the final margin (11 points) was the closest they would get for the remainder of the game.
Dixie shot 56 percent from the field, including hitting half of the shots from distance. DSU outscored the Sunbirds 38-30 in the paint and committed only 6 turnovers for the game.
FPU had five players in double-figures. Bobby Barnes led the team with 15 points before heading to the bench with foul trouble. Roger Paul and Trevon Clayton finished with 14 apiece. Clayton had a double-double with 12 rebounds. Madison Higgins and Solarin score 10 apiece.
For the Red Storm, Robbins led the team with 26 points, hitting 12 of 14 shots. Sawyer and DeQuan Thompson finished with 13 points apiece.
With the loss, Fresno Pacific drops to 5-5, 1-2 in the PacWest. DSU improves to 4-3, 2-1 in conference play. Dixie State will now host the Las Vegas Challenge on Wednesday and Thursday when they will play Seattle Pacific University and Saint Martin’s University in back-to-back non-conference action. Both games will start at 8:30 p.m.
Stats: DSU 88, FPU 77
Dixie State 79, Fresno Pacific 71
The Dixie State women’s basketball team improved to 2-1 in the PacWest conference with a victory over Fresno Pacific. DSU led by as many as 21 points in the second half. Leslie Tademy led the Storm in points with 18. Also scoring in double figures were the other DSU starters, Kaylah Miller (14), Taylor Maynes (12), Halleigh Emerine (10), and Taylor Mann (10).
The Storm improve to 3-4 overall and drop the Sunbirds to 1-6 (1-2 PacWest). The Storm travel to Las Vegas to host the Las Vegas challenge where they will face Seattle Pacific University and Western Oregon University on Wednesday and Thursday. Gametimes for both nights begin at 6:00 p.m.
Stats: DSU 79, FPU 71
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