ST. GEORGE – And one. That seemed to be the theme Saturday night for Dixie State post Josh Fuller en route to a 30-point, 13-rebound performance. Fuller got three points the old-fashioned way on four separate occasions in the Trailblazers 78-73 victory over Western Oregon at Burns Arena.
It did not take long for Fuller to establish his dominance. He scored 10 points before the first media timeout. He started with a 15 foot jumper. Then he got two “and ones.” Then he finished his own personal run with a dunk on a fast break to give Dixie State a 14-8 lead.
Fuller was quick to credit his teammates for his performance.
“Great passing from multiple people tonight,” he said. “Trevor (Hill) and Brandon (Simister) driving and dishing or Zac (Hunter) with the interior passes. I got great feeds from all over.”
Dixie State took its largest lead of the game moments later when Austin Montgomery hit two free throws for a 20-8 Blazer advantage with 12:30 remaining in the first half.
Western Oregon did not fold, however, and chipped away at the DSU lead. In six minutes, the comeback was complete and a 3-pointer by Demetrius Trammell gave the Wolves their first lead since the opening moments of the game, 31-28. They maintained that lead to the three-minute mark when Dixie State closed the first half on a 5-0 run with baskets from Fuller and Hill to take a 37-35 halftime lead.
After a tying basket to begin the second half by the Wolves, Dixie State went on an 8-0 run and took a lead it would not relinquish again. While the Blazers continued to punch the ball inside successfully, it was again the defense and rebounding for the second consecutive night that turned out to be the keys to victory.
“We held a good shooting team to 36 percent,” said Judkins. “And the shots they did hit were pretty incredible. I thought our guys brought an energy the past two nights.”
“When they had that run midway through the first half, the coach called a timeout to settle us down,” said Simister. “He said they would make runs, but to continue playing fundamentally with good defense and rebounding.”
While the Blazers would not relinquish the lead, they were still unable to put the game out of reach. Two free throws by Kyler Nielson with 7:12 to play put the lead back to double digits. The Wolves quickly cut the margin to five points in two minutes. Hunter would extend the lead a couple of times as a trailer on the fast break, hitting two key 3-pointers.
The lead would stay between 5-8 until the waning seconds. After a layup by WOU with 26 seconds left cut the lead to four, the Wolves fouled Nielson. He would hit four consecutive free throws to ice the game.
“There was some pressure,” said Nielson. “But I like being in those situations. Tonight they fell for me.”
Dixie State outshot the Wolves 51-36 percent from the floor. The Trailblazers also had 20 assists on 25 baskets. Individually, Hunter (14) and Simister (13) joined Fuller in double-figure scoring. Hill had 10 rebounds. Simister and Hill each had eight assists to lead the team. Hill also led the team with two blocked shots.
The win concluded Dixie State’s non-conference schedule. The Blazers take a three-game winning streak into next weekend with a conference opening match against Concordia University-Irvine. Game time will be 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Concordia was one of three teams that tied Dixie State atop the PacWest standings last year.
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