Dixie State wins fifth in a row, moves into first in the PacWest standings

Dixie State University vs. Chaminade University, Men's Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State men’s basketball team got away with a slim two-point victory over the visiting Chaminade Silverswords Thursday night and  so doing, move into first place in the PacWest Conference.

Despite some missed opportunities to put the game out of reach, in the end the Red Storm came away with the 93-91 win for their fifth in a row.

dsulogo“We didn’t play horrible,” said DSU head coach Jon Judkins. “But we did not play like we are capable of playing either. And right now we need to be playing at a higher level to finish out the season and secure good seedings for postseason tournaments.”

The Red Storm had a small lead most of the night and held a five-point advantage at 93-88 with under 10 seconds to go. But a clutch 3-pointer by David Ware with five seconds to play made it a two-point game. DSU missed a pair of free throws with three seconds left, but a desperation heave by Chaminade was off the mark, handing Dixie State the tight win.

“I think at times we were drawn into play their game,” said Judkins. “When we settled down and played our tempo, our game, we did much better.”

Mark Ogden (32) finishes an alley-oop from DeQuan Thompson for the Red Storm, Dixie State University vs. Chaminade University, Mens Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Mark Ogden (32) finishes an alley-oop from DeQuan Thompson for the Red Storm, Dixie State University vs. Chaminade University, Mens Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The game stayed pretty tight over the first five minutes with both teams hitting from the outside early. A 3-pointer from James Harper brought Chaminade to within a point at 14-13 with 14:32 remaining in the first half. An early highlight was a perfect alley-oop pass from DeQuan Thompson to Mark Ogden on a Dixie State fast break that Ogden slammed home.

“I saw Mark’s eyes get really wide,” said Thompson. “I had to get it to him.”

Dixie responded with its first run of the game, outscoring the visitors 9-3 to take a seven-point lead at the under-12-minute media timeout. Mason Sawyer scored five during the stretch. Trevor Hill also had a put-back dunk during the stretch. The Silverswords made up the difference quickly though, as sharpshooter Kiran Shastri hit two from distance to pull Chaminade back to within a point 23-22 with 10:40 to play in the first half.

The Red Storm then outscored Chaminade 16-6 to get their largest lead of the game, 39-28. The run started with two Thompson treys and two Zach Robbins post moves. The run ended with a tomahawk slam by Thompson on a fast break feed from Sawyer with 5:53 to play.

Early foul trouble by the Dixie post players sent Robbins and Ogden to the bench. Chaminade whittled away at the lead and trailed by only one at halftime, 47-46.

DeQuan Thompson (24) posterizes a Chaminade player on a thunderous dunk, Dixie State University vs. Chaminade University, Mens Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Over the last four minutes the ‘Swords went to the free throw line 10 times, connecting on nine of them. “They did a good job driving the lane and drawing fouls,” said Judkins. “I think we started being less passive in the second half and getting some calls to go our way.”

Chaminade connected on 8 of 17 from the arc and outscored the Storm by nine from the stripe, hitting 14 of 16. Shastri and Kevin Hu both had 11 points for the ‘Swords at the break. Dixie was led by Thompson and Sawyer with 13 and 12.

Two 3-pointers from Sawyer and Thompson opened the second half and drew an immediate Chaminade timeout. Neither team would trail by more than five for the rest of the half.

Chaminade would take its first lead in nearly 27 minutes of playing time when Frankie Eteuati’s drive put the ‘Swords up 66-64 with 11:37 remaining. He followed that up with a dunk on the next possession.

“He is a talented player,” said Robbins. “We tried to force him away from his left hand. He still made some good plays.”

It would continue to stay tight with four ties and five different lead changes to finish the game. The last tie was broken by Robbie Nielson, who hit his first basket of the game from 20-feet out. Dixie led 87-84 with 1:18 remaining.

“I did not shoot a lot (twice),” said Nielson. “It’s not that I was not looking for my shot. It was just one of those nights where my opportunities were limited.”

Hill added a free throw after getting fouled on a defensive rebound. Chaminade would pull within two on free throws from Shastri. With one minute remaining the score was 88-86.

Robbins put the Storm back up by four with a reverse layup in the lane. Shortly after the ‘Swords got two more from the stripe, this time from Hu with 25 ticks left on the clock to pull to 90-88.

Dixie State G Mason Sawyer on a fast break, Dixie State University vs. Chaminade University, Mens Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie State G Mason Sawyer on a fast break, Dixie State University vs. Chaminade University, Mens Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 12, 2015 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

The Storm would go up by five after two free throws from Hill and one of two from Sawyer. With nine seconds remaining the score was 93-88. Chaminade pushed the ball quickly and got a quick 3-pointer from David Ware with five seconds left. Sawyer was then fouled on the inbounds with three seconds remaining. In the double-bonus, the point guard uncharacteristically missed both shots. Chaminade had exhausted its timeouts and saw a half-court desperation heave by Ware fall short.

Kuany Kuany led four players in double-figures for Chaminade with 22. Joining him were Shastri (20), Eteuati (19) and Hu (13).

Dixie had five players in double-figures. Thompson shared high-scoring honors with Kuany, posting 22. Sawyer followed with 21 points. He also had six assists and four steals. Robbins scored 20. Ogden recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Hill rounded out the double-figure scoring with 11.

The victory, coupled with BYU-Hawaii’s loss tonight at Azusa Pacific, propels the Red Storm into a tie for first with Azusa Pacific at 13-3. BYU Hawaii and Cal Baptist both sit a half-game back at 12-3. Dixie State’s overall record improves to 16-6. Chaminade falls to 9-12, 6-9 in the PacWest.

Dixie State plays next this Saturday, hosting the University of Hawaii-Hilo. The Storm will look to avenge an earlier loss to the Vulcans in Hawaii in January. Game time is at 7:30 p.m.

Stats: DSU 93, CU 91

Women’s basketball
Chaminade 78, Dixie State 74

In a close contest, the Dixie State women’s basketball team lost to Chaminade 78-74 on Thursday night.

Kaylah Miller put in 22 points, but the Red Storm’s leading scorer was held off the board for the final 10:49 of the game. Tied at 71-71, Chaminade outscored the Red Storm 7-3 in the final two minutes to win it.

Shantel Roberts scored 11 points off the bench for a career high and Taylor Mann added 10 points and 9 rebounds to go along with 3 steals. Haileigh Emerine scored 7 points and had a game-high 12 rebounds.

The Red Storm shot 37.1 percent for the game to the Silverswords 44.6 percent. Dixie State missed out on the free ones, making just 18 of 33 from the line.

The teams went back and forth in the first half, but Roberts came off the bench and added six points to put Dixie State up 29-28 inside of the six-minute mark.

The Red Storm took a 38-36 lead into halftime. Miller scored 11 in the first half and Emerine added four points and six rebounds.

Miller continued to stay hot and scored seven of Dixie State’s first 13 points to push the lead to 51-45 with 15:33 to go.

Chaminade stayed in it however at the 8:41 mark and retook the lead at 64-63.

Up by one with three minutes to go, the Silverswords drilled a 3-pointer from the corner to take a 71-67 lead. Taylor Maynes made two freebies on the next possession for DSU to stay within two.

Mann picked up an offensive board to tie it up at 71-71 with 2:12 on the clock.

Dixie State couldn’t find the bottom of the basket over the next two minutes and came up short, dropping the contest 78-74.

The loss drops Dixie to 7-15 overall, 6-10 in the PacWest. Chaminade improves to 6-13, 6-9 in conference play.

DSU hosts Hilo on Saturday, the Play4Kay game at 5 p.m. at the Burns Arena. The team will wear pink socks and pink warmup shirts. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to show support for the fight against breast cancer.

Stats: CU 78, DSU 74

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