Dixie State heads to San Diego for NCAA Tournament

File photo, Dixie State University vs. Chaminade University, Men's Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 4, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The NCAA Division II Tournament begins this Friday. Dixie State eked in after waiting for the conference tournaments to play out.

“It is tough playing that waiting game,” DSU coach Jon Judkins said. “I thought our resume was good enough and would have been even better with at least one win in the conference tournament. But we lost and had to wait and see if any upsets occurred in the conference tournaments.”

Dixie State was in a similar situation last year, but luck did not hold out. The Blazers did not receive an invitation for the first time in six years. This year, however, the Trailblazers are in and they will play the first game of the tournament in the same place as where their season began — in San Diego against UCSD. Below are game summaries for the four NCAA West Regional first-round games scheduled on Friday:

GAME 1: No. 6-seed Chico State v. No. 3-seed Western Washington, noon PST

Coach: Greg Clink, 9th year at Chico (174-94)
Offensive Average: 74.4
Defensive Average: 63.1
Record Against the West Region Field: 3-4
Invitation: At-Large, finished third in CCAA season standings, lost in CCAA semifinals to eventual champion UCSD
Probable Starters: Corey Silverstrom, 6’5 Jr. G (12.7 ppg), Isaiah Ellis, 6’8 Jr. F (12.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg), Robert Duncan, 6’3 Sr. G (12.3 ppg, 3.1 apg), Jalen McFerren, 5’10 Jr. G (12.3 ppg, .452 3FG%, .932 FT%), Marvin Timothy, 6’9 So. C (3.1 ppg)
Other Key Contributors: Justin Briggs, 6’9 Fr. C (9.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, .570 FG%), Michael Bethea, 6’6 Sr. F (5.8 ppg), Nate Ambrosini, 6’4 So. G (4.7 ppg)

Coach: Tony Dominguez, 5th year at WWU (112-42)
Offensive Average: 88.3
Defensive Average: 76.1
Record Against the West Region Field: 2-0
Invitation: Automatic. Won both GNAC season and tournament championship.
Probable Starters: Taylor Stafford, 6’1 Sr. G (22.7 ppg, 3.5 apg, 5.1 rpg), Jeffrey Parker, 6’6 Sr F (15.9 ppg), Daulton Hommes, 6’7 Fr. F (12.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg), Logan Schilder, 7’0 So. C (5.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Blake Fernandez 6’1 Jr. G (4.7 ppg)
Other Key Contributors: Deandre Dickson, 6’9 Jr. F (14.0 ppg, 6.8 rpg, .616 FG%), Trevor Jasinsky, 6’7 Fr. F (6.9 ppg)

Analysis: Two of the bigger teams in the region square off in the first round. While the Vikings rely heavily on Stafford, the Wildcats have very balanced scoring at the top with four players averaging 12 points per game. Both teams have enjoyed decided rebound advantages throughout the season. They also close out well on shooters with their big guys behind them. Chico played the tougher schedule but WWU is the only team to go undefeated against the field, including a convincing wn over No. 1-seed UCSD.

GAME 2: No. 7-seed Sonoma State v. No. 2-seed Hawaii Pacific, 2:30 p.m. PST

Coach: Pat Fuscaldo, 23rd year at SSU (315-303)
Offensive Average: 63.5
Defensive Average: 57.2
Record Against the West Region Field: 2-6
Invitation: At-large. Finished fourth in CCAA season standings, lost in CCAA semifinals to SFSU.
Probable Starters: Jimmy Golden, 6’4 Sr. G (12.0 ppg), Luke Cochran, 6’10 Sr. C (9.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, .556 FG%), Armani Nicolls, 6’5 So. F (7.8 ppg), Khalid Johnson, 5’10 Sr. G (5.2 ppg), Mason Phillips, 6’3 So G (5.2 ppg, .400 3FG%)
Other Key Contributors: Jackson Gion, 6’3 Sr. G (7.0 ppg, .412 3FG%), Ronnie Harris, 6’3 Sr. G (5.5 ppg), Nathan Moloney-Benjamin, 6’9 Sr. C (5.1 ppg)

Coach: Darren Vorderbruegge, 9th year at Hawaii Pacific 127-118
Offensive Average: 87.1
Defensive Average: 68.1
Record Against the West Region Field: 2-1
Invitation: Automatic. Won both the PacWest season and tournament championship.
Probable Starters: Chauncey Orr, 6’4 Sr. G (19.4 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.4 apg, 1.5 spg, .555 FG%, .467 3FG%), Connor Looney, 6’2 Sr. G (17.3 ppg, .394 3FG%), Jordan Martin, 5’11 Sr. G (12.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 3.6 apg), Elliott DeFreitas, 6’10 Sr. C (8.8 ppg, .569 FG%), Clayton Guy, 6’6 Sr. F (4.5 ppg)
Other Key Contributors: Deven Riley, 6’3 Jr. F (6.0 ppg), Jonothan Janssen, 6’9 So. C (5.9 ppg), Colfax Nordquist, 6’3 Sr. F (5.4 ppg), Spencer Vering, 6’6 So. F (5.2 ppg)

Analysis: HPU makes its second consecutive trip to the mainland after winning the PacWest last week. The Sharks were able to grab the title without having to beat the Lancers or the Trailblazers. And they have not played any quality teams outside their conference. They will take their high-powered offense against the top defensive team in Division II. Despite that the Sharks have several offensive options. The Seawolves are able to keep the game close and then try to pull it out down the stretch. They have only two losses by more than three points—and both of those are to SFSU.

GAME 3: No. 5-seed San Francisco State v. No. 4-seed California Baptist, 5 p.m. PST

Coach: Paul Trevor, 7th year at SFSU (107-85)
Offensive Average: 78.6
Defensive Average: 67.5
Record Against the West Region Field: 4-3
Invitation: At-large. Finished second in CCAA season standings and lost to UCSD in CCAA tournament final.
Probable Starters: Warren Jackson, 6.0 Jr. G (17.0 ppg, 3.9 apg, .431 3FG%), Coley Apsay, 6’2 Sr. G (12.0 ppg, 2.4 spg, .444 3FG%), Nick Calcaterra, 6’2 Sr. G (10.3 ppg), AJ Kahlon, 6’11 Sr. C (9.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg, .598 FG%), Chiefy Ugbaja, 6’3 So. G (7.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
Other Key Contributors: Israel Hakim, 6’2 Sr. G (6.0 ppg, .508 FG%), Derrick Brown, 6’5 Sr. F (5.1 ppg), Ryne Williams, 7’0 So C (5.0 ppg)

Coach: Rick Croy, 4th year at Cal Baptist (103-22) 9th year overall (233-57)
Offensive Average: 82.7
Defensive Average: 69.3
Record Against the West Region Field: 3-2
Invitation: At-large. Finished second in the PacWest season standings. Lost to Point Loma in the PacWest semifinals.
Probable Starters: Michael Smith, 6’4 Sr. G (24.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.6 apg), Kalidou Diouf , 6’9 Jr. C(16.0 ppg, 6.9 rpg, .665 FG%), Jordan Heading, 6’2 So. G (12.6 ppg), Jason Todd, 6’5 Jr. F (9.1 ppg, 6.6 rpg, .931 FT%), Casey Norris, 6’1 Sr. G (7.5 ppg)
Other Key Contributors: Marquise Mosley, 5’9 So. G (5.6 ppg), De’jon Davis, 6’7 Fr. F (3.3 ppg)

The Lancers have lost their last two games—both to Point Loma. The two losses dropped them from the No. 1 seed down to fourth. They are the only two teams with convincing wins over the top two seeds. They also should have a rebounding edge over the Gators. The Gators’ non-conference schedule was weak. Their only wins against the field are against SSU (twice) and Chico. They lead the nation in steals and have good full-court pressure. This could be the most fast-paced game in the first round.

GAME 4: No. 8-seed Dixie State v. No. 1-seed UC-San Diego, 7:30 p.m. PST

Coach: Jon Judkins, 12th year at DSU (222-109) 24th year overall (512-237)
Offensive Average: 77.1
Defensive Average: 71.3
Record Against the West Region Field: 2-3
Invitation: At-large. Finished third in the PacWest season standings. Lost to Point Loma in the PacWest quarterfinals.
Probable Starters: Trevor Hill, 6’4 Jr. G (14.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, ,4.9 apg, 1.5 spg) Brandon Simister, 6’0 Jr. G (11.6 ppg, .392 3FG%), Marcus Bradley, 6’6 Sr. F (8.7 ppg, .503 FG%), Kyler Nielson, 6’5 Jr. F (8.9 ppg, .511 FG%), Zac Hunter, 6’6 Jr. F (8.9 ppg,)
Other Major Contributors: Quincy Mathews, 6’7 So. F (7.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Dub Price, 6’7 So. F (4.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Austin Montgomery, 6’8 So C (4.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg)

Coach: Eric Olen, 4th year at UCSD (80-35)
Offensive Average: 70.7
Defensive Average: 62.6
Record Against the West Region Field: 5-4
Invitation: Automatic. Won both the CCAA season and tournament championships.
Probable Starters: Adam Klie, 6’4 Sr. G (15.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.6 apg, .447 3FG%), Chris Hansen, 6’7 So. C (12.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg, .508FG%), Christian Oshita, 6’6 So F (10.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg), Aleks Lipovic, 6’5 Sr. G (8.0 ppg, .435 3FG%), George Buaku, 6’3 Jr. G (5.1 ppg)
Other Key Contributors: Scott Everman, 6’7 Fr. F (7.2 ppg), Anthony Ballestero 5’10 Jr. G (4.9 ppg)

These two team met in the first game of the season in San Diego. The Tritons came away with a seven-point win, 62-55, in what would turn out to be the Trailblazers worst shooting performance of the year. The Tritons jumped out to a 19-point, first-half lead. The Blazers clawed back and cut it to three with just under two minutes remaining. They had a chance to tie a minute later but the jumper fell short. UCSD hit their shots down the stretch.

“We could not hit anything that game,” said Judkins. “They play good defense but we were also just missing shots. We haven’t shot that poorly since. We had an incredible comeback though.” The Blazers shot at a .276 clip from the floor including woeful .111 (1-9) from beyond the arc. DSU has not shot that poorly since and average a .460 shooting percentage.

Both teams have also changed personnel. Gone from the Blazers due to injury are starters Josh Fuller and Brandon Miller (Miller did not play against UCSD) as well as reserve player Preston Sanchez to injury. In their absence, Marcus Bradley and Kyler Nielson have started while others have seen an increase in playing time off the bench.

For UCSD, sharpshooter Aleks Lipovic returned from injury on December 12, the same game that Eric Patton went down with injury. Coach Olen has also shuffled his lineup and two players who both played 20 minutes against DSU (Ben Rico and Kenny Fraser) have fallen out of the rotation.

“Both teams are much different than the beginning of the year,” said Judkins. “They have very good outside shooting and their guy in the middle (Hansen) is a great athlete. It will be a challenge for us.”

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

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