ST. GEORGE – Up by four points, 60-56, with less than four minutes to play, it looked as if the Dixie State men’s basketball team would get its second conference win. Two consecutive 3-pointers from Azusa Pacific reversed those fortunes quickly as the Cougars pulled out a 72-65 victory Saturday afternoon at Burns Arena.
“Probably the turning point in the game,” said Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins. “We had played tough defense, got back into the game, took control. They made the big shots at the end. We didn’t.”
“They have nine guys on their roster that average more than nine points per game,” said Dixie post Josh Fuller. “We couldn’t concentrate on just one or two guys from the perimeter. We had to close out on all of them.”
Fuller would hit 3 of 4 free throws to pull the Red Storm within two with 48 seconds left, 67-65. But APU’s Joey Schreiber hit a layup as the shot clock expired and drew a foul. He completed the three-point play with the free throw to put APU up five. Two free throws at the end got the score to the final margin, 72-65.
“I don’t think we played that badly,” said Judkins. “Defensively, we did not communicate a couple of times and that hurt us at the end. But we missed a lot of shots that we normally do not.”
Fuller had his best game in a DSU uniform. He started out the scoring with a fast-break dunk. APU showed its perimeter shooting prowess early. At the 12:45 mark, the Cougars had built a five-point lead, 15-10, with nine of the points coming from behind the arc. Dixie point Mason Sawyer hit two layups on consecutive drives to the basket to pull DSU within one.
APU’s Joey Schreiber hit his second trey to move the lead back to 18-14. Back-to-back dunks from Dixie post Mark Ogden would tie the score at 20 with eight minutes remaining. Ogden’s second dunk came off a steal and a break-away.
Ogden shortly thereafter picked up his second foul and went to the bench. That led to an APU 13-3 run. Quincy Mathews would hit a 3-pointer at the end of the half to pull the Red Storm to within seven, 35-28.
In the second half, the Red Storm would pound the ball inside. Fuller took advantage of the Cougars playing straight up defense and would score or draw the foul.
“I just wanted to be more aggressive,” said Fuller. “When we do go inside and make plays, it opens up the game for our perimeter guys.”
Nielson praised the play of his teammate.
“Josh (Fuller) played well,” he said. “They did not double down on him initially and he made them pay for it. We just kept feeding him the ball.”
In less than five minutes, the Red Storm turned the seven-point deficit into the lead with a 15-5 run. Eleven of those points came from Fuller.
The Cougars’ 3-point shooting would keep them close. With under eight minutes to play, Sawyer dove and tipped an APU pass to Nielson. Nielson drove the ball to the other end, pulled up and delivered the perfect alley-oop pass to Trevor Hill, who slammed the ball with authority.
Dixie State got its largest lead on consecutive buckets from Ogden and Fuller, 55-49, with 6:57 to play. Both teams played even for the next couple of minutes. Fuller’s free throw with 3:45 to play would set the stage for the waning moments.
The Red Storm shot 39 percent from the floor compared to 46 percent from APU. They did convert 21 Cougars turnovers into 23 points. They also outscored APU 32-16 in the paint.
Individually, Fuller led all scorers with 25 points. Sawyer had a double-double with 10 points and 10 assists. With the loss, DSU falls to 4-5 overall, 1-2 in the PacWest. Azusa moves to 8-3, 2-1 in conference.
DSU will take a break for the holidays before hosting Chaminade on Tuesday, Jan. 5. Game time is set for 7:30 p.m.
Stats: APU 72, DSU 65
No. 25 Azusa Pacific 93, Dixie State 69
The Dixie State women’s team fell hard to nationally-ranked Azusa Pacific. The Red Storm kept the game close through the first half, going into the break down 48-38. But the Lady Cougars slowly built their lead over the third and fourth quarters.
Again, it was the field-goal shooting that hurt DSU. The Cougars out-shot Dixie State 47 to 35 percent. The Red Storm also committed 20 turnovers.
Individually, Chermayne Moore led DSU with 20 points. Taylor Mann and Ashlee Burge joined her in double figures with 19 and 14 points, respectively. Mann added 10 rebounds for a double-double. Point guard Leslie Tademy dished out six assists.
Dixie State falls to 1-7, 1-2 in the conference. APU improves to 9-2 overall and 3-0 in the PacWest. Dixie State will host Chaminade on Jan. 5. Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m.
Stats: APU 93, DSU 69
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