ST. GEORGE – Dixie State survived horrid shooting the first 12 minutes of Wednesday night’s game against Dominican in Burns Arena to pull out its ninth win in 10 games and sixth in a row.
The Trailblazers started the game hitting just one of their first 11 shots and only four of their first 20. They then went on to shoot 59 percent, hitting 23 of 39 for the remainder of the game.
“I think our free-throw shooting was key tonight,” said Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins. “Most of our early points came from the line and in the second half we were able to maintain a double-digit lead most of the way because we hit our free throws.
“Our shot selection was not bad. We were missing shots that we normally make. The only disappointing area tonight was our rebounding. We gave up 18 offensive rebounds. That is too many.”
Dominican center Henry Uwadiae was a big reason for the disparity on the boards.
“Their big guy gave us some trouble tonight,” said DSU post Marcus Bradley. “He was very active on the glass. I blocked a few of his shots, but he was still able to power them up on the rim and have them roll in.”
Half of DSU’s points during the early drought came from the free throw line. And despite the poor shooting, the Blazers only trailed by five, 21-16, before the shots started falling with seven minutes remaining in the first half.
The change of fortune ignited an 18-2 Dixie State run to end the first half. Five different Blazers scored during the run, led by Brandon Simister’s seven points. At halftime, the Blazers led 34-23.
In the second half, the Penguins came out strong. But DSU was able to match their intensity. The Blazers’ lead never dipped below seven points.
The Blazers forced three late turnovers and held Dominican to 33 percent shooting at the end to go on a 16-7 run to end the game. A 3-pointer from Simister sparked the run, followed by two strong drives from Quincy Mathews. The game ended on a trey from Wade Miller and a good post move from Kyle Bingham.
The Blazers held Dominican’s leading scorer, Jeremiah Gray, to less than half his average.
“We were always aware where he was,” said Dixie State guard Trevor Hill. “We got into him early. He got frustrated and then got into early foul trouble.”
As a team, Dixie State outshot the Penguins 44 to 37 percent. Dominican outrebounded DSU 42-40 and held a 16-8 advantage on second-chance points. The Blazers forced DUC into 14 turnovers and outscored the Penguins 21-10 on points off turnovers.
Individually, Hill led all players with 15 points. He also had four assists and shared the team lead in blocked shots with Bradley at three. Simister and Mathews joined Hill in double-figure scoring with 12 and 10, respectively. Posts Austin Montgomery and Bradley scored nine and eight. Simister led the team with six assists.
Dixie State improves to 11-4 overall and 8-1 in the PacWest. The Penguins fall to 4-11 and 3-6 in conference play. The Trailblazers will now travel to Southern California to take on Point Loma and Concordia, two teams they have beaten at home. They will take on Point Loma on Saturday at 4 p.m. Pacific Time. They face Concordia on Monday at 7:30 p.m. PT.
Dominican 72, Dixie State 63
Leading by one entering the final quarter, the Blazers were unable to maintain the lead and were outscored 22-12 in the final stanza. The second-half shooting for the Trailblazers was a low 19 percent. Dominican also outrebounded DSU 45-40 and forced the Trailblazers into 23 turnovers. The key stat was Dominican’s dominance in the lane, where they outscored Dixie State 34-16.
Individually for the Trailblazers, Matti Ventling and Ali Franks shared scoring honors with 15 points apiece. Franks had a double-double with 14 rebounds. Joining them in double-figure scoring were Jaden Gonzales (12) and Gabrielle Cabanero (10). Ventling led the team with four assists and shared team honors in steals (4) with Franks.
The Blazers played without starters Ashlee Burge and Lisa VanCampen due to injury.
Dominican improves to 9-7 overall and 5-4 in conference play. Dixie State falls to 2-13 overall and 2-7 in the PacWest. The Trailblazers will play next at Point Loma this Saturday at 2 p.m. PT
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