SAN DIEGO – The Dixie State men’s basketball team fell to the Tritons of UC-San Diego 62-55 after shooting a paltry 27.6 percent from the field Friday in the CCAA PacWest Challenge.
The Trailblazers missed their first eight shots, 13 of their first 14 and 17 of their first 20. They managed to connect on four of their last six to close the half to get to 26.9 percent. Their defense kept the Tritons from pulling away too much, but the halftime lead for UC-SD was 41-28.
“UCSD closed out on our 3-point shooters,” said Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins. “Our guys made good decisions taking it to the basket, but they had a big guy (Chris Hansen) in the lane that forced us into tough shots. Our guys felt like there were some fouls that weren’t called, but you have to play through that.”
It did not get much better in the second half. Only one player hit any shots outside of two feet. Zac Hunter hit a jumper with five minutes gone in the second half. He hit his second jump shot five minutes later. He then hit the only 3-pointer of the game for Dixie State with 5:23 remaining. It came at a crucial time, however, and brought the Triton lead to single digits 53-46.
Two free throws from Brandon Simister cut the lead to five. The Tritons got the lead back to 10 on a 3-pointer and two free throws. But then Dixie went on another run to cut the lead to 58-55. After a free throw from Quincy Mathews, Trevor Hill and Josh Fuller followed up with two layups. Then Hill stole the ball and got a dunk to complete the run with 1:55 to play.
“We felt that if we got a stop on their next possession, we could catch them,” said Judkins. “We felt that we could still get three offensive possessions at that point.”
After UC-San Diego took a timeout, the run was broken on a bucket from UCSD’s Hansen on an inside play. A missed jumper at the DSU end forced a Blazer foul. Anthony Ballestero completed the scoring with two free throws. Dixie missed two 3-pointers to end the game and give the win to the Tritons.
“Other than our poor shooting, I felt like our guys played well,” said Judkins. “Quincy was a monster on the boards and played a good overall game.”
Individually for Dixie State, Hill led the team with 18 points. Fuller and Mathews both finished with double-doubles. Fuller scored 12 and pulled down 12 rebounds. Mathews scored 10 and pulled down 11 rebounds.
The Blazers will play Cal Poly Pomona Saturday. The Broncos lost to Azusa Pacific in the early game tonight.
“Cal Poly plays much different than the team we played tonight,” said Judkins. “The team we played tonight was more like us. Tomorrow we will face a very athletic team that plays a tough zone defense similar to Syracuse.”
The game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
Stats: UCSD 62, DSU 55
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