ST. GEORGE – In a game full of turnovers, fouls and poor shooting, it was the team that played less ugly that won the game. Dixie State came out on top 57-50 over visiting Hawaii Pacific University Monday night in the Burns Arena.
Dixie State started the game well, holding the Sharks to only one basket in the first 10 minutes. The scoring began with a steal and a layup by Robbie Nielson. The lead continued to climb with three Zach Robbins shots. A jumper from DeQuan Thompson gave the Red Storm an 11-0 lead with 13:38 to play.
The Sharks finally got on the board with a layup by Luke Hager. Dixie State continued to roll, however, scoring the next seven. Trevor Hill’s two free throws had the Red Storm up 18-2. HPU’s second field goal, a 3-pointer by Josh Morgan, came at the 9:37 mark. That ignited a 21-6 run by the Sharks. Point guard Justin Long scored 15 during the run, including a perfect 3 for 3 from beyond the arc. Dixie still led 24-23 at halftime.
DSU shot 37 percent from the floor in the first half and 50 percent from the stripe. HPU was a miserable 25 percent from the floor. Dixie also had 14 turnovers at the break and five players saddled with two fouls apiece. Nielson, who had two steals leading to layups in the half, also drew two charges and added a 3-pointer. He had seven points, hitting all three baskets before halftime.
“Robbie (Nielson) is our defensive stopper,” said Judkins. “He makes big plays at the defensive end. He has given us that every year he has been here.”
Nielson said he relishes the role.
“My father and brother were both considered defensive stoppers in college,” said Nielson. “So I guess I am carrying on that tradition. Drawing a charge creates momentum. You not only get the turnover but the other player gets the foul.”
Both teams stayed pretty even over the first five minutes of the second half. HPU took its first lead on Clayton Guy’s jumper from the left baseline, making it 35-33 at the 15:05 mark. The lead changed hands several times before the Storm put together a 7-0 run with just under nine minutes to play. Zach Robbins’ layup had Dixie up 46-40 with 7:51 left.
HPU closed to 48-46 on two free throws from Hager with 4:32 left in the game. Dixie State went back up by five on a fast break dish from Thompson to Robbins, who slammed the ball home. With 3:41 to go DSU led 52-47.
Hager pulled the Sharks to within three with a layup from the right side. Mark Ogden answered with a 12-foot jumper in the lane. On HPU’s next possession, Hager drew the foul on Ogden and connected on 1 of 2 to pull within four, 54-50, at the 1:16 mark.
After an empty Storm possession, the Sharks could not connect on a Justin Long 3-pointer. Robbins was fouled on the rebound and hit 1 of 2 for the 55-50 lead with 27 seconds left.
Thompson then stole the ball with 11 seconds left. Instead of taking it the distance the senior guard pulled the ball out to run some time off the clock.
“I did not even think about taking it to the hole,” said a smiling Thompson. “The coach would not have been happy.”
HPU finally got a foul with three seconds remaining. Thompson hit both free throws for the final margin.
“Our guys played better the second half,” said Judkins. “Both teams were tired. This is our third game in five days. Also, with the early foul trouble, we had guys out there playing more minutes than they are used to playing. We did cut down on the turnovers and rebounded and played defense better in the second half.”
The Sharks were led by Long with 18 points. Hager had 10 points and 9 rebounds. For the Storm, Robbins had 18 points. He also collected nine rebounds. Thompson also hit double-figures with 16 points. Ogden had 14 rebounds, six at the offensive end. For the game, the Red Storm shot 38 percent from the floor and 54 percent from the free-throw line. They held HPU to 28 percent shooting. They outscored the Sharks in the paint 26-10.
The Sharks fall to 14-10 overall and 9-9 in the PacWest conference. DSU stays in first place with the win and moves to 18-6 overall and 15-3 in conference play. The Storm will now travel to Fresno Pacific University on Saturday before returning home for the season finale against Point Loma Nazarene on Feb. 28.
“I asked the guys that if I had told them at the beginning of the year that we only had to win two games to be conference champions would they take it,” said Judkins. “They said yes. Well that is where we are at — win two games and we will be the season conference champions.”
Stats: DSU 57, HPU 50
Hawaii Pacific 98, Dixie State 65
The Dixie State women’s basketball team fell behind late in the first half and lost to Hawaii Pacific 96-65 on Monday night.
Despite the loss, Dixie State’s Kaylah Miller hit a career milestone, joining the 1,000-career points club with 10 points in the game. She is just the second member, with Johnna Brown being the other with 1,212 career points as DSU’s leading scorer.
The Sharks outscored DSU in the paint 50-16 and scored 40 points off of 25 Dixie State turnovers.
Chermayne Moore led the Red Storm in scoring with 16 points, including four 3-pointers. Miller also picked up four assists and two steals to go along with her 10 points.
Dixie falls to 8-16, 7-11 in the PacWest. The Sharks improve to 21-4 and lead the PacWest with a 16-2 record.
Dixie State will play on the road at Fresno Pacific on Saturday, Feb. 21 at 3:30 p.m MT.
Stats: HPU 98, DSU 65
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