ST. GEORGE – Brandon Miller made six 3-pointers and Dixie State survived a late rally by Sonoma State as the Trailblazers won 64-62 over the Seawolves in their return to Burns Arena Friday night in St. George.
With nine seconds left on the clock, Miller went to the free throw line with a 63-61 DSU lead. He sank the first, but the second fell out. Sonoma State guard Khalid Johnson raced up the floor, but before he could get a shot off he was fouled by Trevor Hill with three seconds left.
“In that situation, we want to foul,” said Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins. “As hard as it is to hit a pressure 3-pointer, it is even harder to miss a free throw on purpose, get the rebound and put it back. Teams don’t practice it.”
Johnson hit the first and then missed the second, but Hill secured the rebound and threw a high-arcing outlet to Miller, allowing time to expire and giving the Trailblazers the win.
The game started out well for the visiting Seawolves. Just before the first media timeout, they led 7-2. They would not score again for eight minutes.
“We just buckled down,” said Dixie State post Josh Fuller. “We closed out on their shooters, but we had great communication inside. We knew from film that they liked to feed their posts. We did a good job fronting and with backside help.”
During the same stretch, DSU hit 5 of 11 shots. Zac Hunter’s 3-pointer gave the Blazers a 14-7 lead. Jackson Gion’s 3-pointer for Sonoma State ended SSU’s drought with 8:10 to play in the half.
When Fuller went to the bench with his second foul, Dixie State fed post Austin Montgomery. Montgomery hit three of his four shots, with his last one giving DSU a 10-point lead, 34-24, with 13 seconds on the clock. SSU added a pair of free throws and trailed 34-26 at halftime.
DSU maintained the lead through the first 10 minutes of the second half. Three consecutive free throws from Hill gave DSU a 12-point edge, 51-39, with 10:10 remaining.
SSU slowly chipped away at the lead. Every time the Seawolves would get the lead down to 4-5, Miller would hit a timely 3-pointer.
“I was open most of the night,” said Miller. “Trevor (Hill) or Brandon (Simister) would penetrate and kick out, or we would get the ball into Josh (Fuller) or Dub (Price) and they would kick back out.”
Miller tied a school record with six 3-pointers on the night.
“When Brandon gets his feet set, he is automatic,” said Judkins. “Tonight he made really good decisions, taking the shot when it was there or shot-faking and going around the defender when it was not there.”
DSU led 62-54 on Simister’s free throw with 2:12 remaining. Two consecutive buckets from SSU cut the lead to four with 1:46 remaining. Simister’s missed jump shot with 40 seconds left led to a SSU fast break. Fuller drew a charge from Sonoma State’s Johnson. The Seawolves fouled quickly and Simister went to the line and hit one of two for a five-point lead with 22 seconds left.
SSU made it interesting when Gion hit his fourth 3-pointer of the night with 13 seconds left, setting up the final seconds.
Sonoma State outscored the Blazers from the floor 47-46. Despite poor foul shooting (56 percent), DSU outscored the Seawolves from the stripe 18-15.
“We missed too many free throws,” said Judkins. “The guys at the line are the ones we wanted there. In practice, they hit 80 percent or better. You just can’t emulate game-pressure situations in practice.”
Individually for Dixie State, Miller led with 19 points. Fuller and Hill had 13 and 12 points, respectively. Hill led the team with four assists and three steals. Simister also had four assists. Fuller led the team with six rebounds. Hill and Price had five apiece.
The Blazers improve to 2-3 and will play Western Oregon Saturday night. The Wolves beat Westminster 65-58 in the early game Friday night. Sonoma State falls to 3-2. Game time for DSU-WOU Saturday is set for 7:30 p.m.
Westminster 69, Dixie State 58
The Dixie State women’s basketball team lost its final pre-conference tuneup on the road to future RMAC foe Westminster, 69-58.
The Blazers had pulled to within 44-42 to start the fourth quarter, but the hot-shooting Griffins put distance between the two teams early in the final stanza and were not threatened at the end.
Westminster outshot the Blazers from the floor (50-34 percent) and from the line (100-80 percent). Lisa VanCampen led the Blazers with 18 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Shelby Kassuba and Tramina Jordan also scored in double figures with 12 and 10, respectively. Jordan also led the team with three assists.
The Blazers fall to 0-6. They will open PacWest Conference play next Saturday against Concordia University-Irvine at home. Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m.
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