MONMOUTH, Ore. – Bottom line: Dixie state just keeps winning.
The undefeated Red Storm men’s basketball team, fresh off an overtime victory over No. 2-ranked Seattle Pacific, traveled to Monmouth, Ore., to take on Western Oregon. The Wolves had their own victory over a ranked team, beating seventh-ranked Cal Poly Pomona last week. The game was in doubt up until two Dalton Groskreutz free throws sealed the win 78-74 with 1.1 seconds left in the game.
The Red Storm stumbled early, trying to figure out WOU’s full-court press. Dixie turned over the ball 13 times in the first half, 10 of those on Wolves’ steals, leading to 11 points off turnovers. Western Oregon would lead much of the first 10 minutes, but could never stretch their lead beyond six points. As the Red Storm began to settle down and break through the Wolves’ press, Dixie would lead much of the latter part of the first half.
As the half wound down, the Wolves were looking to go in the locker room with a lead, but Dixie’s Zach Robbins blocked a layup attempt by Rodney Webster. Groskreutz scooped up the loose ball, wrapped the ball around his back to avoid a defender, drove to the 3-point line and drilled the shot to give the Red Storm its biggest lead of the first half, 43-39.
The second half saw Dixie turn the ball over again on its first two possessions and Western Oregon pulled within one within the first minute. Dixie responded with an 8-2 run, sparked by a rebound dunk by Robbins and four points from Groskreutz. Dixie led 51-44 with 15:44 to play.
Western Oregon edged its way back and with just under 10 minutes to play and the game was tied at 57. Dixie then went on an 8-0 run with a power move by Jordan Rex and two 3-pointers from Robbins and Mason Sawyer. The Red Storm would trade baskets, but continue to hold a lead between 6-8 points until the 3:20 mark of the second half. WOU scored the next five points on a three from Jordan Wiley and a jumper in the lane by Devon Alexander.
Dixie’s Kimball Payne hit one of two free throws at the two-minute mark, but WOU’s Adam Hastings responded with a free throw and a put back to pull the Wolves within one at the 1:24 mark.
On the ensuing possession Sawyer drove the lane, drew two defenders, dished to Robbins, who immediately passed to a wide open Groskreutz for an easy bucket to go up 75-72 with 56 seconds to play.
WOU’s Webster drew a foul and again pulled the Wolves within one, 75-74, on two free throws with 36 seconds to play. After failing to force a turnover, Webster then fouled Sawyer with 17 seconds left. Sawyer, an 80-percent foul shooter on the year, got 1 of 2 to give the Red Storm a tenuous two-point edge.
After a timeout, Webster advanced the ball to the frontcourt, ran the clock to about five seconds, drove hard right and dished the ball to Lewis Thomas, who came off a double-screen at the top of the key. His open look drew nothing but air and Dixie had possession with 1.8 seconds left. Groskreutz was fouled immediately on the inbounds pass and made the insurance free throws.
Groskreutz led all scorers with 23. Robbins had a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds. Also scoring in double figures were DeQuan Thompson and Louis Garrett, with 12 apiece.
WOU was led by Mirza Sabic with 18 points. Hastings and Marwan Sarhan also scored in double figures with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Dixie out-shot Western Oregon and held a sizable advantage on the boards, 40-27. But Dixie’s 20 turnovers kept the Wolves within striking distance.
Dixie State, ranked No. 15 in the NABC Division-II Poll, committed 20 turnovers and shot under 50 percent from the floor but prevailed to remain undefeated at 4-0 on the year. The Wolves played extremely tough and cut numerous DSU leads during the game, but eventually fell to 2-3 on the season.
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