BILLINGS, MONT. (December 11) –With 15:50 remaining in the second half and holding a 14-point lead, Dixie State College could have never imagined having to scrap for a victory. Montana State Billings roared back with white-hot shooting forcing overtime. In the end, the Red Storm defense held the Yellowjackets without a field goal in the extra five-minute period to squeak out a 73-69 victory on Saturday night at Alterowitz Gymnasium.
Dixie State (7-3) won their third straight game in the closest battle of the non-conference season. MSU-Billings showed an immense amount of talent, but dropped to 1-6 with a fifth consecutive loss.
The first half was closely contested, 16-13 DSC at the 10:34 mark, until the Red Storm pounded the paint for an 8-0 run including three close shots from Griffon Jones who finished with 11 points. Jeremiah Barnes drained a three with a dwindling shot clock to push the lead to 12 points. A late Barnes foul on a three-point shot attempt from DeAndre Chambers shaved the DSC advantage to 38-28 after 20 minutes of play.
Three minutes into half number two, DSC continued to hold a 10-point lead trading small runs with the Jackets. Tom Whitehead drove the baseline for a dunk and Jones popped in another layup for a 48-36 score. The Yellowjackets started their comeback from distance including triples from Jaxon Myaer, Leon Sutton and Chambers. The three from Chambers at the 3:36 mark gave MSUB capped the scoring crest and gave the home team a 66-64 lead.
Dixie State cashed their final four points of the second half from the free throw line and ensured extra time defending a Chambers jumper from the left elbow.
Robert Mayes hit one of two charity shots with 3:53 left in OT to give the Jackets their final lead 69-68. Jones tied the game with a free throw and Barnes cut through the MSUB defense for the game-swaying lay-in. Solomon Jensen hit two more freebies and pulled down the final Jacket miss for the victory. The OT victory was the first since December 15, 2008 when Dixie State beat Western Washington in double overtime 86-84 at the Burns Arena.
Whitehead led all scorers with 18 points while Jones and Jensen each had 11. Barnes had 10 to close out four Storm players in double figures. For the Jackets, Raason Young had 14 points and seven rebounds in defeat.
Dixie State shot 43.4-percent from the floor and nailed 22-of-27 free throws (81.5%). The Yellowjackets shot 42.2-percent and won the battle of the boards 35-33.
The Red Storm will take a three-week break for finals and the holidays. They return to action at home on January 8 to open Pacific West Conference play against Grand Canyon. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the Burns Arena.