ST. GEORGE – Dixie State avenged its earlier loss this season to Azusa Pacific by beating the Cougars 67-62 at Burns Arena Saturday night. Unlike their matchup in mid-December, when both teams scored over 100 points in an overtime game, the game on Saturday was slower paced as Dixie State used tough defense to get the win.
“We keyed on their three leading scorers,” said Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins. “There were a couple of guys we felt would not hurt us, so we cheated off them, especially when the ball went into the post, to double-team the players we knew could give us trouble.”
The game was the most closely played by an opponent all season as neither team led by more than four points in the first half and neither would lead by double digits the entire game.
“I never felt truly comfortable that we had won the game,” said Judkins. “Especially after what they did to us at their place. When we got up by eight late in the game, I knew we only needed a couple of good defensive possessions. But then they get a quick layup and then hit a 3-pointer in the corner.”
Dixie State guard Trevor Hill’s two free throws with just over five minutes remaining had given the Trailblazers a 60-52 lead. But after APU’s Corey Langerveld hit a layup, the Blazers missed the front end of a bonus situation at the line. Langerveld then nailed the 3-pointer to pull the Cougars to within 60-57 with 4:18 showing on the clock.
After an empty possession by the Blazers, Hill drew an offensive foul to get the ball back. With the shot clock winding down, Brandon Simister hit a jumper to put the Blazers up five with 2:23 left in the game.
The Cougars cut the lead to two after hitting 3 of 4 free throws on consecutive possessions. After a DSU timeout, the Blazers got the ball inside to big man Marcus Bradley. He paused to wait for a double team that never came. Then he took two dribbles and hit a jump hook in the lane.
“I was expecting the double-team to come,” said Bradley. “I was prepared to dish it to one of our wings for the open shot. But they left me alone. It was an easy decision.”
After a missed 3-pointer at APU’s basket, Dixie State got the ball into the frontcourt and then bled the clock. After another DSU timeout, Simister found Zac Hunter for a jump shot just inside the elbow. Dixie State led 66-60 with 30 seconds left.
Hunter then got a rebound at the defensive end and was quickly fouled. He hit one of two with 18 seconds on the clock. Azusa got a quick layup at the other end, but was unable to score any further.
In the first half, it was Simister and Quincy Mathews that got the bulk of the offensive production for the Blazers. Simister’s outside shooting was on target in the early going. Mathews scored seven consecutive points during one stretch that turned an early 19-15 Blazer deficit to a 22-21 lead with just over eight minutes remaining.
The lead see-sawed back and forth the remainder of the half, with Simister and Kyler Nielson each getting two baskets and DSU heading to the locker room up 31-30.
Azusa Pacific opened the second half with a basket and a 32-31 lead. While the game remained close, it would still be the last time that the Cougars would lead the game.
With just under 17 minutes remaining, Hill took a defensive rebound and drove the length of the floor. He lost control around the free throw line, but dove to the floor and tipped the ball to Bradley, who then hammered home a dunk.
“When he got the ball to me, my eyes got real big,” said Bradley. “I saw Kyler (Nielson) breaking to my right and I could have passed him the ball for an easy basket. But I had to make up for my missed dunk last game. The guys were razzing me about that.”
With 14:25 on the clock, Hill drove the lane on the right side. His layup came off, but Hunter, who had been trailing Hill, grabbed the rebound in mid-air and put it back in for a DSU 44-37 advantage.
Hill and Price both hit key 3-pointers to give DSU eight-point leads, but each time the Cougars clawed back, leading to the final moments of the game.
Both teams shot 42 percent from the floor. Dixie State held a 40-36 rebound advantage and an 11-5 edge on second-chance points. Individually for the Blazers, Simister led the team with 15 points. Bradley joined him in double figures with 12. Mathews and Price each scored nine. Hill scored eight. Bradley, Hill and Hunter led the team with seven rebounds apiece. Simister led the team with six assists.
With the win, Dixie State moves to 13-5 overall and 10-2 in the Pac West, a half-game back of frontrunner Hawaii Pacific. The Blazers will host Hawaii-Hilo next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Azusa Pacific falls to 10-11 overall and 5-6 in the PacWest.
Stats: DSU 67, APU 62
Azusa Pacific 69, Dixie State 48
The Dixie State women’s basketball team fell, 69-48, to Azusa Pacific on Saturday at the Burns Arena, as the Cougars connected on 15 3-pointers (nine in the second half) en route to the victory.
Azusa Pacific opened the game on an 8-0 run before the Trailblazers recorded their first basket on a Lisa VanCampen layup at the 4:38 mark of the first quarter. The Cougars answered with a 3-pointer, and the teams traded baskets for the final four minutes of the period. Tramina Jordan connected from downtown, followed by a pair of VanCampen free throws to cut the APU lead to 19-10 after one quarter of play.
Like the the first quarter, APU opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run before Shelby Kassuba converted a layup at the 5:50 mark to cut the lead to 26-12. Matti Ventling nailed a triple, followed by back-to-back layups by Hannah Roberts to cut the APU lead to single digits. But the Cougars answered with their own 3-pointer. Jordan knocked down a jumper on the ensuing DSU possession to cut the APU lead to 31-21 at halftime.
The teams traded 3-point shots to start the third quarter, as APU connected on three attempts, and Jaden Gonzales converted one for DSU. Kassuba added a layup at the 6:53 mark to cut the APU lead to 40-26. But the Cougars stayed hot from outside, connecting on three more 3-pointers before the quarter ended. Ali Franks countered with a trey as the third quarter came to a close to cut the lead to 51-31 heading to the final period.
Dixie State opened the fourth quarter on a 5-0 run behind a Ventling triple and Jordan transition layup to cut the lead to 51-36 and force APU to call a timeout. After the timeout, the Cougars heated up from outside once again, connecting on consecutive 3-pointers to push the lead back to 58-39 at the 6:34 mark. Jordan and Gonzales each added 3-pointers later in the quarter for DSU, but the Cougars held on for the 69-48 win.
The Trailblazers shot 34 percent from the field, 26 percent from beyond the arc, and 44 percent from the line. Jordan led DSU with a team-high 10 points and five assists, while Ventling added nine points, and Gonzales finished with eight points.
Azusa Pacific moves to 9-10 overall and 7-4 in the PacWest. The Blazers fall to 2-16 overall and 2-10 in the PacWest. Dixie State continues its five-game home stand next Saturday, Jan. 28, as Hawaii Hilo makes a visit to the Burns Arena.
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