ST. GEORGE – Well-prepared teams have players ready to step up whenever they are needed. Senior forward Derek Owen was that player Thursday against Grand Canyon University.
After starting power forward Zach Robbins drew a pair of fouls in the game’s first five minutes, Owen stepped in to post a 15-point, five offensive rebound performance in Dixie State’s 71-66 win over GCU in Pacific West Conference play.
The win moved the Red Storm to 10-4 overall and 5-1 within the league. It was the first time in 14 games the Lopes (14-3, 5-1 PWC) tasted defeat, snapping a win streak dating back to November 14.
Owen connected on half of his six field goal attempts, but sank nine of 14 free throws to lead three DSC players in double figures. Kimball Payne recorded a season-high 14 points while McKay Massey scored 13 points, 11 of which came during an early second half push.
After trailing by three points at halftime Massey and Robbins combined for the first 13 DSC points of the second half, including a lay-in and a 3-pointer from Massey to build a five-point lead. Owen added four consecutive charity shots to end a 9-0 run.
Dixie State built the lead to 11 points with less than two minutes to play before the Lopes rattled off eight unanswered points to pull within three at 69-66 with six seconds left.
Payne was fouled on the ensuing play and converted a pair of free throws to ice the game.
Dixie State shot 52 percent from the field (26-50) and hit three of seven from behind the arc. GCU was held below their season average, connecting on 39 percent for the night, but shined from the free throw line at an 87 percent clip.
Braylon Pickrel led the Lopes with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Dixie State hits the road for a Saturday afternoon matchup with PacWest newcomer Azusa Pacific. The first meeting with the Cougars in league play is set for 3 p.m. Pacific (4 p.m. Mountain) from the Felix Events Center in Azusa, Calif.
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