BILLINGS, Mont. – The Dixie State men’s basketball team evened its season record with a second win in as many nights at the Montana State University-Billings Invitational. The Red Storm beat the host school 75-72 Saturday night to go 3-3 on the year.
The Storm had to fend off a late Yellowjacket comeback in the game after leading by as many as 14 points earlier in the second half.
DSU scored the first seven points of the game. The Storm opened with two jumpers from Mark Ogden and then Mason Sawyer hit his first trey of the game. All three shots were on assists from Trevor Hill.
“We knew that their rotation had only seven players,” said Hill. “We wanted to run as much as possible early to wear them down.”
Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins said the game plan was simple.
“They have really good shooters,” he said. “They spread you out and will drive by you if you close too fast. We did a good job closing out and our post guys played good help defense.”
The Yellowjackets climbed back and knotted the score at 12 with 13:23 left in the first half. Robbie Nielson’s 3-point shot with 10 minutes to play put the Storm back up six, 22-16. The lead climbed to nine on a thunder dunk by Nielson with just under seven minutes remaining, 31-22. The Storm got their biggest lead of the half when Trevor Hill completed his second three-point play of the half with 2:24 remaining to put the Storm up 10 points 37-27.
The Yellowjackets pulled to within six before Brandon Simister’s jump shot gave DSU an eight-point margin at halftime.
The Storm continued their good play coming out of halftime. Hill’s third three-point play of the night gave the DSU an 11-point lead with 11:29 to play.
“Trevor finishes well when he attacks the basket,” said Judkins. “He squares his shoulders so well. He is difficult to stop.”
The lead climbed to 14 on Sawyer’s 3-pointer with 9:18 to play. The Yellowjackets responded with a 9-0 run. Hill’s layup with 5:41 to play ended the run and put DSU back up seven, 65-58. The Storm maintained a 6-8-point lead over the next two minutes.
Preston Beverly’s layup with 1:35 remaining cut the Storm lead to three, 74-71. Nielson responded with a jumper 25 seconds later. With 55 seconds remaining, the lead was again cut to three with a layup by Christian Evans.
Dixie State came up empty on its next possession, but did run off 30 seconds of clock. MSUB called a timeout with 13 seconds remaining.
“I decided to not give them a chance to tie us,” said Judkins. “We told our guys to go for the steal but if you come up empty to put them on the foul line. We did it twice — with nine seconds remaining and again with six seconds remaining.”
The Yellowjackets could only convert 1 of 4 from the line. DSU also only hit 1 of 4 from the line late putting the final score at 75-72.
“We got into some foul trouble with our big guys,” said Judkins. “When that happens, other guys have to step up. Of course, Trevor had a good game but Robbie Nielson played tremendous as well. He scored nine, but got us eight big rebounds.”
Hill ended the night with 28 points and six assists, leading the team in both categories. Sawyer and Ogden joined him in double-figure scoring with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
DSU will begin PacWest Conference play this Thursday in Riverside, Calif., against Cal-Baptist. Game time is set for 7 p.m. Pacific Time.
Stats: DSU 75, MSUB 72
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