ST. GEORGE – Austin Montgomery may not get the game ball for Dixie State, but somebody should buy the backup center a milkshake.
With 1:30 showing on the clock, visiting Notre Dame de Namur had trimmed Dixie State’s once double-digit lead to 68-65 and had put Trailblazers starting center Josh Fuller on the bench with five fouls.
Enter Montgomery, a sophomore from Gainesville, Ga., who hauled in key rebounds and played good defense over the next 60 seconds. When he checked out, Dixie State’s lead had grown to nine points en route to a 77-69 victory Saturday at Burns Arena.
“Austin (Montgomery) got player of the game,” said Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins. “He came off the bench for us and scored 11 points and pulled down some key rebounds. He is a very good offensive player and his length can cause opposing teams problems at the other end.”
Through the first eight minutes, neither team could break out offensively. The Blazers held Notre Dame to only four points but their lead was only seven, 11-4. Zac Hunter scored the next two baskets on feeds to the post. With his back to the basket the 6’6 post scored against his taller opponent.
“Zac has no problem scoring,” said Judkins. “He has a good face-up game as well as a good post game.”
With DSU up 15-4 with just under 10 minutes to play in the first half, the visiting team made a 6-0 run. It was broken on a 3-pointer from Brandon Simister, the recipient of inside-out play on two straight 3-pointers with assists coming from his bigs, Fuller and Hunter.
“Our posts are excellent passers,” said Simister. “Whether it is a dish back out or an interior pass, they see the floor well.”
The lead reached double figures for the first time on Simister’s 15-foot jumper from the right side to put Dixie State up 23-12 with 6:54 remaining in the half. The teams would trade baskets over the next five minutes. Trevor Hill gave DSU its biggest lead of the first half with a fast-break layup. At the 2:13 mark it was 36-24. NDNU added a free throw before the break to go in at halftime down 11.
“In the first half we did not play our game,” said Judkins. “We did not have many free throw attempts and zero offensive rebounds until the very end when we got two on the same possession. We told our guys to attack the basket and to be more aggressive rebounding at the offensive end.”
Coming out of the locker rooms, neither team could put together a run. DSU had its largest lead of the game on a Montgomery layup, courtesy of an interior pass from Dub Price.
“Austin (Montgomery) makes it look easy,” said Hunter. “But he is always in the right place at the right time. He plays the boards well and gets position in the post.”
The lead was 50-35 with 11:51 to play. Quincy Mathews would match that lead moments later after a NDNU basket. At that point, the Argonauts slowly chipped away at the DSU lead. With 6:10 to play, the lead was down to single digits, 59-50, when Fuller fouled out. Dixie State got the lead back to 13 on Hunter’s tip-in with 3:34 remaining.
NDNU then went on their late-game 9-1 run. The Argonauts hit two key treys and got another layup off a steal during the run. The Blazers were able to right the ship with defense and rebounding down the stretch.
As a team, the Blazers outshot NDNU 51-39 percent. They also outrebounded the Argonauts 40-35 with 11 at the offensive end. Individually, Simister led the team with 18 points. Fuller and Hill joined him and Montgomery in double figures with 12 and 10, respectively. Hill also led the team with seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
With the win, DSU moves to 6-4 overall and 3-1 in the PacWest. Notre Dame de Namur drops to 2-7 overall and 1-3 in conference play. The Blazers will play again on Monday night against always tough Point Loma Nazarene. Game time at Burns Arena is set for 7:30 p.m.
Notre Dame de Namur 88, Dixie State 82 (F/OT)
The Dixie State women’s team made a furious comeback in the fourth period against NDNU. After drawing a charge with 47 seconds remaining, DSU had the ball and a 70-68 lead. The Blazers then easily beat the Notre Dame press, but missed two successive shots at the other end. Two foul shots from NDNU tied the game. After a DSU timeout, the Blazers got the ball to Shelby Kassuba, who put them back up 72-70 with eight seconds remaining. However NDNU would get the equalizer with three seconds remaining to put the game into OT.
In the extra session, the visitors hit 4 of 5 shots from the field and 8 of 11 from the line to secure the win. For the game, DSU outshot its opponent 42-38 percent and outrebounded them 48-47. DSU turned the ball over 23 times, but actually outscored Notre Dame on points off turnovers 23-16. The difference in the game came at the free throw line, where the Argonauts outscored DSU 20-14.
Individually for Dixie State, Tramina Jordan led the team with 18 points and 11 assists. Joining her in double figures were Ali Franks (15), Matti Ventling (14) and Lisa VanCampen (12). In limited playing time, Kili Franks had nine points. Ventling led the team with nine rebounds.
NDNU improves to 5-6 overall and 3-1 in the PacWest. DSU falls to 0-10 overall and 0-4 in the PacWest. The Blazers will play Point Loma on Monday at 5 p.m.
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