ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State men’s basketball team faced its third nationally-ranked opponent in as many games Monday night and came out on top again, 82-79. Cal Baptist came to St. George ranked No. 11 and leading the PacWest. The Red Storm had lost to CBU earlier this season 88-81 in Riverside, Calif.
“I told the guys when we lost to them in December that we would beat them when they came to our place,” said Dixie center Zach Robbins. “In the first game, I got into early foul trouble and we got down early. Different story tonight.”
Robbins finished the game with a double-double, scoring 23 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
Cal Baptist had its chances late in the game. The Lancers cut the lead to one point when Chris Brown hit his first trey of the game with 25 seconds left.
“We told our guys to keep tight on everybody except (Brown),” said Judkins. “And he made us pay, but that was a shot we could live with.”
CBU called its last timeout and when the Lancers could not steal the inbounds pass, they fouled DeQuan Thompson.
“I like to have the ball in my hands in crunch time,” said Thompson. “I had full confidence going to the line.”
Thompson delivered hitting both shots with 19 seconds on the clock. Dixie led 80-77.
On the next possession, the Lancers got the ball to Wheelwright. Robbins went to double-team the ball and Wheelwright found Spencer for an open shot underneath.
“He had been giving us trouble,” said Judkins. “We yelled for Zach to go help out. They got the open shot, but it was only two points. They needed three.”
On the inbounds play, Mason Sawyer was fouled before the ball could be put into play. He calmly hit both ends of the double-bonus to put the Storm up 82-79 with two seconds left. After another timeout, Thompson quickly fouled Berg at halfcourt before he could attempt a shot.
“My assistants told me I was crazy,” said Judkins. “But Berg is the kind of player who can hit the 40-footer. I figured with our size it would be harder for them to hit a free throw then try and get a rebound and basket to tie it.”
Unfortunately for CBU, Berg missed the first free throw. On the second free throw, he tried to throw it off the rim. One official blew the play dead because the ball did not hit the rim. A second official ruled that it had hit the metal underneath the cylinder. After several minutes of consultation, they called a jump ball. The alternating possession was with DSU. Thompson threw the inbounds pass full court to Ogden and time expired.
The game stayed close the entire way with Dixie briefly getting a double-digit lead once in the second half. In the first half, it was the Lancers who jumped out of the box early as Dixie State missed its first three shots. In a frantically paced first 10 minutes, both teams pushed the ball up court quickly.
“We were tired after the two-day turnaround and we were home,” said DSU head coach Jon Judkins. “For them to travel from their game in San Diego and then play us two days later, I can imagine they were even more.”
With 12 minutes gone, the Lancers had built their largest lead of the game 24-17.
“Their big guy (Taj Spencer) was backing Zach (Robbins) down,” said Judkins. “Zach had the height advantage, but he was putting enough arc on it to get it by him. We adjusted with some double-teams from Robbie (Nielson).”
The Red Storm responded with a 12-3 run. Robbins scored two baskets in the lane. Nielson and Sawyer ended the run with 3-pointers. With five minutes remaining in the half, Dixie led 29-27.
CBU’s Trevone Williams hit a trey to end the run, but Dixie was not finished. The Red Storm finished the final four minutes of the half on an 11-3 run. Dixie freshman guard Trevor Hill’s defense was key in the run. Hill stole the ball from last year’s PacWest player of the year, Ryan Berg, then took it to Berg at the other end to put the Red Storm up 36-33. On the next possession, Berg drove to the basket and Hill forced a jump ball with the alternating possession going to DSU. That led to another layup by Hill at the 1:34 mark. Robbins finished the scoring for the half with a 15-foot jumper. Dixie had turned a seven-point deficit into a seven-point lead, 40-33.
Robbins’ 12 points paced the Storm in the first half, where Dixie shot 50 percent from the field, including 3 of 6 from downtown.
Dixie maintained a 6-8 point lead over the first eight minutes of the second half. The Red Storm pushed the lead to double-digits with 12 minutes to play on a fast break layup from Thompson. On the Storm’s next possession, Robbins’ 10-foot jumper from the right baseline gave Dixie its largest lead of the night, 60-48.
That cushion would shrink quickly. A key sequence with 8:38 to play would pull the Lancers to within four. After a tip-in by Mark Ogden gave Dixie a 63-54 lead, Cal-Baptist drove the ball quickly and found Chris Brown ahead of the pack for a layup. On the ensuing inbounds play, Brown stole the ball and found Gelaun Wheelwright in the corner. Wheelwright connected for three to cut the lead to 63-59. A free throw by Williams cut it even further to three points at the 7:55 mark.
After a media timeout, Robbins went back to work first with a power move in the paint, then drawing a foul and connecting on two free throws. Another layup by Nielson put the Red Storm back up by eight, 71-63, with 5:45 remaining.
With Berg not 100 percent, the Lancers looked to Wheelwright to carry them down the stretch.
“Berg has missed four games earlier due to injury,” said Judkins. “This was his second game back and his game, particularly his shooting, has not quite resurfaced yet.”
Wheelwright scored 8 of CBU’s next 10 points, drawing the fifth foul on Hill in the process. With Hill going to the bench, Nielson took over defensively.
Wheelwright led all scorers with 24 points. He was joined in double-figures by Spencer and Elvidas Petrulis with 21 and 11 points, respectively.
Joining Robbins in double-figures were Thompson (16), Sawyer (13) and Ogden (11). Sawyer nearly recorded his second consecutive double-double, dishing out nine assists.
The Storm outshot CBU 49-44 percent from the field. The Storm also won the battle of the boards 40-35. Dixie also held a 12-4 advantage on fast break points.
Cal Baptist falls to 14-2 overall, 8-1 in the PacWest. They Lancers are currently tied for first with Azusa Pacific University atop the conference.
Dixie improves to 11-5 overall, 8-2 in the conference, tying them for third with BYU-Hawaii. The Red Storm will travel to Azusa this Saturday to face APU in the first of four games on the road. Game time is 4:00 p.m. Mountain and can be heard on Southern Utah Live.
California Baptist University 77, Dixie State University 59
A slow start proved too much to come back from and the Dixie State women’s basketball team lost to Cal Baptist 77-59 on Monday night.
Taylor Mann posted a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds, her seventh of the year. Kaylah Miller scored 19 to lead Dixie State (5-11, 4-6) in scoring.
The Red Storm started out ice cold, going 0 for 15 and falling behind 16-0 with under 11 minutes to go in half, but finished the game shooting 30.4 percent from the field. Dixie State finally got on the board after Brianna Jessop sank a free throw with 10:50 to go in the first half.
Gabrielle Cabanero drained a triple from the corner to make it 25-13 with 4:45 until the break.
Later on, a 7-0 spurt from the Red Storm cut the lead to single digits at 29-22 with 1:54 remaining. Cal Baptist took a 34-25 lead into halftime.
Cal Baptist pushed its lead to 20 over the first 10 minutes of the second half but Dixie State’s Mann continued to pound inside and helped get the score to a 60-46 deficit with 9:56 to go.
The lead was too much for the Red Storm to come back from and Cal Baptist eventually won it 77-59.
Taylor Maynes sat out the game with an injury.
With the loss, the Red Storm fall to 5-11 overall, 4-6 in the PacWest.
Dixie State heads back on the road to take on Azusa Pacific on Saturday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. MT.
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