ST. GEORGE –When you’re hot, you’re hot, and Dixie State is smokin’.
On Jan. 26, the Red Storm were 6-5 in the PacWest after a road loss to BYU-Hawaii. They were tied for seventh in the PacWest standings and on the outside looking in when it came to postseason consideration. Cue forward three weeks and, with Monday night’s 91-67 victory over Holy Names University, the Storm have won five in a row and are one game back in the loss column to front-runner Azusa Pacific.
“We knew we had to take care of business at home,” said Dixie State coach Jon Judkins. “We had a successful five-game home stand, but now we got a tough three-game California road swing before we play our last game at home against Concordia. We will probably have to win out to get a 1- or 2-seed.”
The Hawks, who sit in a distant 13th in the PacWest standings and are out of any consideration for postseason invitations, played much better than expected in the first half.
“We played listless in the first half,” said Judkins. “(Holy Names) came out and played well. We made some careless turnovers that we were able to clean up in the second half.”
Even with the sloppy play, the Storm took the lead and held onto it through the entire first half. The lead pushed to double digits for the first time on Josh Fuller’s move in the lane with 6:25 remaining, 29-19. The Hawks would cut into that lead and pull to within six points on two occasions. Mason Sawyer’s two free throws pushed the lead again to 10 with 2:43 remaining. Holy Names hit a 3-pointer to pull the score back to 38-31 at halftime.
The Storm shot the ball well (52 percent) and was perfect from 3-point land (2-2). They also held HNU to 36 percent shooting. But the 13 turnovers led to six more shots for the Hawks to make the game closer than it should have been.
The Storm corrected the mistakes in the second half and went on a 31-14 run over the first 10 minutes. All five starters scored at least four points during the run. Quincy Mathews came off the bench to score five, including the layup that put the Storm up 69-45 with 10:46 remaining.
“Quincy is showing more and more confidence with his playing time,” said Judkins. “He will be crucial down the stretch, especially times like tonight when we are shorthanded.” Robbie Nielson missed his second straight game due to injury, but is expected back this Saturday for the Storm’s next game.
Judkins began to substitute liberally in the latter part of the second half. All 13 players that dressed got playing time. And everyone scored except for Walker Swenson, who did not attempt a shot. He did get three rebounds and a blocked shot in three minutes of playing time.
The lead climbed as high as 26 three separate times. A layup by Holy Names with five seconds remaining brought the score to the final tally 91-67.
Two players ended up with double-doubles for DSU. Trevor Hill led the team with 16 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. Mark Ogden had 10 points and 10 rebounds. All five starters scored in double figures. Fuller matched Hill for team honors with 16 points. Brandon Simister and Mason Sawyer scored 15 and 10 respectively.
The Storm move to 11-5 in PacWest play and 14-8 overall. The Hawks fall to 3-15 in the PacWest and 4-22 overall. The Storm will start their road trip this Saturday against Holy Names in Oakland. Two days later, they will face a tough Dominican team before ending their road trip against Fresno Pacific on Wednesday.
“Dominican has been playing real well,” said Judkins. “They are always a tough matchup for us.”
The Storm will end the regular season against Concordia University which actually sit atop the PacWest standings, but are ineligible for postseason play in its first year competing in Division II.
Game time Saturday is set for 7:30 p.m Pacific Time.
Dixie State 76, Holy Names 65 OT
The Dixie State women’s basketball team defeated Holy Names, 76-65, in overtime Monday night at the Burns Arena for its second consecutive victory.
The Red Storm tied the game on two Taylor Mann free throws with one second remaining in regulation and outscored the Hawks 16-5 in overtime en route to its first win streak of the season.
The fourth quarter seemed an almost carbon copy of the third, as neither team managed to pull ahead by more than three points. And similar to the third quarter, Holy Names used a 5-0 run to pull ahead at 59-56 with 54 seconds remaining. Chermayne Moore ended the run with a tough layup in traffic. The Storm fouled immediately on the next play, and HNU missed a free throw, leaving an opportunity for DSU to tie without a 3-pointer.
Head coach Jenny Thigpin called for timeout after the Hawks made the second free throw and took advantage of the women’s basketball option to advance the ball to midcourt in the last minute of the game. Mann caught the ensuing inbounds pass and was fouled on her way to the basket. She calmly sank both free throws to send the game to overtime. Mann’s free throws capped an eight-point, six-rebound quarter to help DSU stay in the game.
The Storm won the tip in overtime and never looked back, using a 7-0 run to gain a lead they would not relinquish. And this time it was Jessop’s turn take over. Jessop scored six points and grabbed three rebounds, and the Red Storm never trailed in the overtime period en route to its second consecutive victory.
Dixie State shot 43 percent (26-of-60) from the field, 26 percent (4-of-15) from beyond the arc, and 80 percent (20-of-25) from the free throw line. Mann led the way, equaling her season-high point total with 29 points and 22 rebounds for her 18th double-double of the season (10th consecutive). Jessop added her first double-double of a season with a season-high 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Dixie State moves to 6-10 in the PacWest and 6-16 overall. Holy Names falls to 7-11, 8-18 overall.
The Storm head to California for their final road trip of the season, featuring rematches with Holy Names on Saturday and Fresno Pacific next Wednesday, with the lone matchup of the season with Dominican sandwiched in between next Monday.
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