ST. GEORGE — After losing their men’s basketball home opener to Providence Friday, Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins spoke about his team’s lack of fire on defense and their inability to score in the zone.
That changed Saturday night.
Dixie looked like a brand new team and had an easy time scoring on Saint Martin’s zone defense. The Trailblazers went on to win, 75-71, behind their big men Hunter Schofield and Josh Newbold.
Newbold came off the bench and had a career night with 22 points, while Schofield scored 18 points with nine rebounds. The two were a big part of the zone offense, flashing into the high post while being an option in the short corner. They found success in making a number of 15-foot jump shots and scoring on dump-down passes into the low post.
“We knew he could get the high post against these guys and Josh and Cam are really good at that 15-footer, especially Josh,” Judkins said. “He took advantage of that tonight. He found those holes and our guards found him. He let the offense come to him, and when you do that, you shoot good.”
Dixie had control of the entire game, leading by as many as 15 with about 13 minutes to go. Saint Martin’s would hit some threes late that made the game look closer then it was, but the Trailblazers commanded both sides of the ball in Saturday’s win.
Schofield and Newbold each looked more confident in their shot selection. Judkins said that they got plenty of shots up in the shootaround to help build that confidence. Even after the loss on Friday, Schofield came right back onto the court to get shots up. He said that played a big role in his boosted confidence going into Saturday’s game.
“We knew we were going to get zoned tonight so we came out prepared and a little bit more aggressive, not hesitating to take those high-post and short-corner shots,” Schofield said. “We really moved the ball a lot better tonight. It was a lot smoother on offense.”
The biggest difference in the zone offense was the ball movement from the inside to the perimeter. The Trailblazers did not look hesitant to attack on offense as they did during Friday’s loss. Instead, they actively found gaps and holes to exploit. Add to that the ability of Newbold and Schofield to shoot mid range jump shots at a high percentage, and the team was almost unrecognizable from the night before.
While the offense began to find its rhythm, the Trailblazer defense was noticeably more attentive and active. Judkins was not happy with the team’s overall defensive effort on Friday.
“We watched film of last night’s game,” Judkins said. “We showed them how bad our closeouts were and how bad our gaps were. Tonight was better.”
Schofield also noticed the difference, attributing it to the film session the team had before Saturday’s game.
“I think it was night and day,” Schofield said. “Last night, there was a good 10 or 15 minutes of that game where our defensive intensity wasn’t there. Tonight, we were able to keep that intensity up through most of the game, and I think that was the difference.”
The Trailblazers travel to the Westminster Invitational in Salt Lake City next weekend for another double-header against Lake Superior State and Alaska-Fairbanks. Dixie State will return home on Nov. 30 to take on Westminster to start Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.