That’s 9 … and counting: DSU men win again, close regular season hot

Dixie State University vs. Concordia University Irvine, Mens Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Seniors Mason Sawyer and Robbie Nielson led five Storm players in double figures with 17 points apiece on Senior Night as Dixie State rallied past Pacific West Conference leader Concordia-Irvine, 82-67, Saturday in the Burns Arena.

dsulogoThe Storm finished the 2015-16 regular season with a nine-game winning streak to improve to 18-8 overall and 15-5 in the PacWest Conference. DSU is tied for first in the PacWest standings.

In the first half, the two teams played evenly through the first six minutes. Trevor Hill’s drive and dish on the fast break found Brandon Simister in the corner for a DSU’s first 3-pointer of the game to pull within 10-9 with 13:57 on the clock. The visiting Eagles then went on a 15-4 run to take a double-digit lead with 8:58 remaining 25-13.

Dixie State's  Mark Ogden Jr. (32), Dixie State University vs. Concordia University Irvine, Mens Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie State’s Mark Ogden Jr. (32), Dixie State University vs. Concordia University Irvine, Mens Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Dixie State cut it to six points when Mason Sawyer hit two free throws with 5:23 remaining. The Storm would cut the lead to four a couple of times. Zac Hunter’s jumper from the baseline cut the lead to 33-30 with 1:27 remaining. An eagle trey got it back to six points. Both teams traded two free throws before Robbie Nielson’s spin and jumper on the right side cut the lead to 38-34 just before halftime.

Concordia outshot the Storm 52 to 44 percent from the field, including 46 to 25 percent from beyond the arc. After missing three free throws early, the Storm hit 10 of their last 11 to outscore the Eagles at the line 10-5. Individually, Josh Fuller and Simister led DSU with eight points apiece at the half.

“We did not play as well as we should have in the first half,” said Simister. “Coach told us we needed to be quicker on our rotations. Concordia shoots the ball so well that you cannot let them have the looks they got in the first half.”

Dixie State's  Zac Hunter (34), Dixie State University vs. Concordia University Irvine, Mens Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Dixie State’s Zac Hunter (34), Dixie State University vs. Concordia University Irvine, Mens Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 27, 2016, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Coming out of the locker room, the Storm tied the game quickly behind two buckets by Hill and Nielson. Concordia responded with a 6-1 run to take a five-point lead. Nielson hit a 3-pointer from the left side to tie the game at 44 with 15:39 remaining. The Storm took their first lead since early in the first half with Ogden’s free throw 30 seconds later. The Storm would not relinquish that lead the rest of the night.

The Eagles kept it close, never trailing by more than five points over the next five minutes. They pulled to within one on Justin Davis’ jumper with 11:10 remaining. Again Nielson hit a big 3-pointer to give the Storm a cushion.

“Robbie hit some big threes tonight,” said Hill. “He has been hurt lately, so it was great to see him back to his old self in time for Senior Night. He puts in a ton of work and he is a great example to all of us.”

The Storm built the lead incrementally to as high as eight points. Eagle post Geoff Gerlach powered in a basket with 4:44 remaining to cut the lead to 66-60.

The Storm then went on a decisive 14-2 run over the next three minutes. The run included some great plays. Hill got a steal and then drove coast-to-coast to get an “and-one” at the other end to put DSU up 73-60 with 3:24 on the clock. On DSU’s next possession, Hill took the inbounds pass, dribbled to the left baseline, did a stutter step, took the ball to the rim and posterized Concordia’s Gehrlach. With 41 seconds left, Sawyer drove the lane, drew traffic and threw the perfect lob pass to Mark Ogden for an alley oop dunk.

“Mark got into foul trouble early,” said Hill. “But he was a monster on the boards tonight and on defense he kept Concordia out of the lane.”

Sawyer had four assists in the game.

“Mason played great tonight,” said Simister. “He is good at keeping us calm and also getting us out on the break. Plus, he is clutch from distance. We don’t call him Money Maize for nothing.”

Simister, Hill and Fuller also scored in double figures with 14, 13 and 10 points, respectively. Odgen pulled down a game-high 11 rebounds.

Dixie State will have to await the outcome of University of Hawaii-Hilo and Azusa Pacific to see if they will gain a share of the PacWest season championship. The Storm is guaranteed a top 2-seed in the PacWest Conference Tournament. Concordia is ineligible for postseason play because of their move to Division II this year. They finish the season with a 22-6 record, 15-5 in the PacWest.

The seedings and game schedule will be announced later on this week.

Stats: DSU 82, CUI 67

Women’s basketball
Dixie State 88, Concordia 62

The Dixie State women’s basketball team ended the season on a positive note with a win over the visiting Eagles. The Red Storm won five of its last six games.

The Storm jumped out quickly, outscoring Concordia 27-16 in the first quarter. They added to the lead at each break. As a team, DSUoutshot the Eagles 48 to 35 percent, including 48 to 21 percent from beyond the arc.

Individually, Taylor Mann had game highs of 26 points and 26 rebounds. The three other seniors played well in their final game. Chermayne Moore and Brianna Jessop joined Mann in double figures with 19 and 11 points, respectively. Leslie Tademy led the team with eight assists.

The Storm finish the year 9-17, 9-11 in the PacWest. Concordia finished with an overall record of 2-13, 1-19 in conference play.

Stats: DSU 88, CUI 62

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