IRVINE, Calif. – The Dixie State men’s basketball team pulled off another close win against PacWest foe Concordia Monday night, coming back from 10 points down midway through the second half. DSU edged out the Eagles in Irvine by winning the free-throw battle at the end of the game. The 67-64 win was DSU’s second over Concordia this year.
“It was a tough win that we gutted out,” said Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins. “It always is against this team, especially on the road.”
The Trailblazers trailed the entire first half as the Eagles took the opening tap, scored on their first possession and did not relinquish that lead until much later in the game. The DSU offense looked out of sync and scored only six points in the first 10 minutes and trailed by eight, 14-6. The Trailblazers closed within two when they went on an 11-5 run. Austin Montgomery started the run with a trey from the left side and ended it with two free throws.
The Blazers pulled within one with five minutes to play in the half on Marcus Bradley’s rebound and putback, pulling to within 24-23. The Eagles then went on a 10-1 run, hitting two 3-pointers in the process to take their first double-digit lead 34-24.
Dixie State closed the half with good defense and stellar play from Trevor Hill. He went coast-to-coast, weaving through defenders in the lane, for a layup. On the next possession, Hill grabbed an offensive rebound, then fed Kyler Nielson for the final points of the half. Dixie State still trailed 34-28.
The Blazers shot an uncharacteristically low 30 percent in the first half. DSU led the rebound battle at the half 25-16. Nielson led the team with eight points.
Hill began the second-half scoring with a 3-pointer to cut the lead in half. The two teams then traded baskets for the next few minutes. Zac Hunter’s rebound and putback had DSU trailing 40-37 with 17:24 remaining.
But just as the Blazers got close, CUI went on another run, outscoring Dixie State 10-3. With 11:55 to play, the lead was back to double digits, 50-40. The Blazers came back in a hurry, though. Dub Price started the run with a jumper in the paint. On DSU’s next two possessions, Hill got to the rim for hammering dunks. Defensively, the Blazers forced Concordia into two shot-clock violations.
“We were attacking the basket tonight,” said Judkins. “We shot a lot of free throws and hit a bunch, especially down the stretch. I liked our aggressiveness. We did not settle for the outside shots.”
Moments later, Hill got the defensive rebound and fed the ball ahead to a breaking Quincy Mathews. The Desert Hills alumnus sidestepped a defender in the lane, but missed the layup and went to the floor. The defender rebounded the ball, but Mathews took the ball away from him while he was on the floor and threw the ball back to Daylor Youngblood in the backcourt. Mathews then got up, flew to the 3-point line in the right corner, took Youngblood’s pass and drained the 3-pointer to cut the lead to 52-49.
Hill cut the lead to one with two free throws and DSU was the closest it had been, trailing 52-51 with 8:20 remaining. Concordia’s Tad Dufelmeier ended the run with a three-point play at the other end. But this time the Eagles would not shake DSU. The Blazers kept up the pressure at the other end and finally, with 2:24 to play, Marcus Bradley rebounded his own miss, got the bucket and drew the foul. Though he did not complete the three-point play, he gave the Blazers their first lead of the night at 59-58.
The next 12 points scored by both teams came from the free-throw line. Dixie State has been hurt all year, especially in late-game situations, with free throw woes. But this time DSU hit 8 of 10 down the stretch against CUI. The Eagles were not so fortunate. After hitting three of their first four, they missed the front end of a bonus situation then missed one of two on their next possession with the double bonus.
With eight seconds left to play, Brandon Simister’s two free throws gave DSU a 67-62 lead. The Eagles pushed the ball up quickly and missed the layup, but the putback by Dalton Patchen with 0.9 seconds left pulled the Eagles to within three. After the Eagles called a timeout, Dixie State inbounded the ball with a throw to half court. It was intercepted by Concordia’s Brian Chambers, who quickly heaved the ball towards CUI’s basket. The ball hit the front of the rim and fell away.
“That pass was not quite what we wanted to do,” said Judkins. “If we did not get a clean pass to one of our free-throw shooters, we wanted to throw the ball deep. That last pass was not quite deep enough.”
Dixie State had an atypical poor shooting night from the field, but outshot the Eagles 38-35 percent for the game. DSU also hit 22 of 29 free throws and outrebounded Concordia 43-34. The Blazers outscored CUI 30-20 inside the paint.
Individually for Dixie State, Hill led the team with 16 points. Zac Hunter joined him in double figures with 10, including two big free throws down the stretch. Bradley led the team with nine rebounds and two crucial blocked shots that led to shot-clock violations. Hill led the team with three blocked shots.
“Marcus (Bradley) always plays great at the offensive end,” said Judkins. “Sometimes, defensively, fatigue sets in and he does not play as effectively. Tonight he played great defense down the stretch.”
Dixie State moves to 12-5 overall and 9-2 in the PacWest. Concordia falls to 9-7 overall and 5-3 in conference play. The Blazers now return home this Saturday to face Azusa Pacific. The Blazers suffered their first conference loss at Azusa earlier this year in overtime 104-103. Game time is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Concordia 77, Dixie State 56
The Eagles doubled up DSU in the first period. The Trailblazers went 5 for 15 from the field and committed five turnovers in the period. Meanwhile, Concordia hit 11 of 20 from the field, including 4 of 5 from downtown. After one the score was 26-13.
The Blazers did not let the game get away in the second quarter. Matti Ventling’s shooting from the outside kept DSU close at the beginning and Cassidy Carrillo’s play off the bench sparked some late baskets in the half.
At halftime, the score had widened slightly to 46-28. With Dixie State’s starting post players still out with injuries, the Eagles dominated the first half in the paint 22-10. And they also held a decided advantage in points off turnovers 17-5. Ventling led the team at halftime with nine points.
Coming out of halftime, it was the Eagles that started strong, building the lead to as high as 24 points with 6:29 on the clock. Gabrielle Cabanero hit two 3-pointers that ignited a 12-5 run to end the quarter.
The 17-point deficit was too high to make up in the fourth quarter. The Eagles would eventually stretch the lead to 25 points midway through the final stanza before coasting to the 77-56 win.
The Eagles outshot DSU 44-35 percent for the game. They also outrebounded the Blazers 48-36. The Blazers were outscored 40-16 in the paint.
Individually for DSU, Ventling led the team with 11 points and six assists. Tramina Jordan, Carrillo and Cabanero each scored 10. Ali Franks led the team with nine rebounds.
The Eagles improve to 7-8 overall and 5-4 in the PacWest. Dixie State falls to 2-15 overall and 2-9 in the PacWest. Dixie State will now return home for a five-game home stand before taking their annual Hawaii road trip. They begin their home stand with a rematch against Azusa Pacific on Saturday at Burns Arena. Game time is scheduled for 5 p.m.
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