Dixie State basketball: Simister leads Storm to big win over Nanooks

Dixie State's Robbie Nielson (14), file photo from Dixie State University vs. Seattle Pacific University, Basketball, Utah, Nov. 14th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

BILLINGS, Mont. – The Dixie State men’s basketball team got back into the win column with a convincing victory over the University of Alaska-Fairbanks from the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, 71-58, in the opening game of the Montana State Billings Thanksgiving Tournament Friday afternoon.

The Nanooks came into the game undefeated and averaging 96 points over their last five games. But sophomore Brandon Simister had a career-best 23 points and the DSU defense held UAF well below its average.

dsulogo“They had a size advantage up and down our lineup,” said Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins. “We did some things defensively out front switching on some screens and also making it difficult for them to get the ball into the post.”

The Red Storm jumped on UAF early. At the second TV timeout, the Dixie State lead was 14-6. Trevor Hill had three baskets during the run. It climbed to 12 at the 10-minute mark, 20-8, behind consecutive layups from Mason Sawyer and Robbie Nielson. With five minutes to play in the half, the Storm had increased the lead to its largest of the night, 14 points, on a post move from Josh Fuller to lead 33-19.

The Nanooks nearly closed the half on a mini-run to halve the lead. But Hill’s layup with nine seconds remaining put the Red Storm back up nine, 41-32, going into the break.

Dixie State started the second half with seven consecutive missed shots. The Nanooks pulled to within one on a 3-pointer from guard Joe Slocum. Simister, a sophomore return missionary who prepped at Desert Hills in St. George, matched it with a trey of his own.

Dixie State's Brandon Simister (22), file photo from Dixie State University vs. Seattle Pacific University, Basketball, Utah, Nov. 14th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie State’s Brandon Simister (22), file photo from Dixie State University vs. Seattle Pacific University, Basketball, Utah, Nov. 14th, 2015, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

UAF hit another one, this time from guard Ashton Edwards, to move the score to 44-43. Edwards’ layup with 13:37 remaining in the game gave UAF its first lead since early in the first half, 48-47.

The Nanooks extended the lead to 52-50 on a layup from Almir Hadzisehovic with 8:38 remaining. The Storm responded with a 15-2 run, culminating with an exclamatory dunk from Mark Ogden. All five Storm players on the floor scored during the run and Dixie State held a formidable lead at 65-54 with only 1:32 remaining. Fuller added a dunk of his own in DSU’s 6-4 run to close the game.

The Storm hit 46 percent of their shots from the field and 79 percent from the charity stripe. Defensively, they held the Nanooks to 34 percent from the floor, 18 percentage points below their average.

“Robbie (Nielson) and Trevor (Hill) played great defense tonight,” said Simister. “They took charges and together held their best player, Travante Williams, to only five points (15 points below his average).”

The Storm also out-rebounded their taller opponents 42-25.

“Our bigs played great,” said Simister. “They kept (UAF) to one shot on defense. They ran the floor well. And they also sealed their men and allowed us to penetrate to the bucket.”

Individually, Simister led four players in double-figures with 23. Joining him were Hill (13), Fuller (13) and Ogden (10). Ogden added 11 rebounds for a double-double.

DSU moved to 2-3 while Alaska-Fairbanks fell to 4-1. The Storm will play the second game of the MSU-Billings Invitational against the host school Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

STATS:

ALASKA FAIRBANKS – Edwards 4-11 0-0 10; Kaba 3-7 4-4 10; Slocum 4-15 1-2 13; Williams 2-5 0-0 5; Hadzisehovic 4-7 0-1 8; Duncan 0-4 0-0 0; Chavez 0-4 0-0 0; Pederson 1-3 0-0 3; Davis 3-5 0-0 7; Ladines 1-4 0-0 2. Totals – 22-65 5-7 58.
DIXIE STATE – Ogden Jr. 4-8 2-2 10; Fuller 5-12 3-4 13; Sawyer 1-3 2-2 4; Simister 6-9 8-8 23; Hill 5-12 3-6 13; Brandley 0-1 0-0 0; R. Nielson 4-7 0-0 8; Hunter 0-2 0-1 0; Youngblood 0-0 0-0 0. Totals – 25-54 19-24 71.

Halftime Score – Dixie State 41, Alaska Fairbanks 32. Three-Point Goal – UAF 9-29 (Edwards 2-6, Kaba 0-1, Slocum 4-12, Williams 1-3, Duncan 0-1, Chavez 0-3, Pederson 1-1, Davis 1-2); DSU 2-8 (Sawyer 0-2, Simister 2-3, Hill 0-1, Brandley 0-1, R. Nielson 0-1). Total Fouls – UAF 22; DSU 16. Fouled Out – UAF, Williams; DSU, None. Rebounds – UAF 25 (Kaba 5, Hadzisehovic 5); DSU 42 (Ogden Jr. 11). Assists – UAF 12 (Kaba 4); DSU 10 (Hill 3). Turnovers – UAF 18; DSU 22. Steals – UAF 13 (Williams 4); DSU 8 (R. Nielson 3). Blocks – UAF 4 (Chavez 3); DSU 2 (Fuller, Hunter). A – N/A.

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