ST. GEORGE – Trevor Hill may not be indispensable, but he’s darn close.
Dixie State had led by as many as 18 points early in the second half Saturday afternoon, but the Academy of Art had cut the Trailblazer lead to just six (54-48) when DSU coach Jon Judkins had seen enough. Hill had watched most of that run next to Judkins after picking up his fourth foul early in the second half. Judkins reinserted Hill into the game and in a span of 1:46 of game clock, the Blazer team captain scored seven points, got two steals and assisted on the other two Blazer baskets to get the DSU lead back to double digits en route to the Blazers’ 74-62 conference victory at Burns Arena.
“Trevor brings an intensity to the game,” Judkins said. “Brandon Simister also does that, but today he and another starter, Quincy Mathews, were out with injury. Trevor plays the passing lanes well at the defensive end and creates opportunities for himself and his teammates at the other end.”
Hill would finish the night as the game’s leading scorer with 23 points and also led Dixie State with six assists and four steals. He also hit 10 of his 11 free throws.
The game started with a jumper from AAU’s Cameron Niven. That would be the Knights’ only lead of the night. Hill nailed a 3-pointer at the other end and DSU opened the game with a 13-6 run.
Zac Hunter’s free throw on a three-point play gave DSU its first double-digit lead, 23-13. Four minutes later the Blazers had their largest lead of the first half on a driving layup from Hill, 33-16.
The Knights made a run of their own and pulled to 35-24. With three minutes remaining in the first half, Hill got his hands on a loose ball, drove the lane, drew an extra defender and whipped a pass to Austin Montgomery, who slammed it home.
“I fumbled the initial pass,” Montgomery said. “Then Zach Frampton bailed me out by diving on the floor and tipping the ball to Trevor. Trevor does what he does. He forced my guy to come off me and then threw a great pass.
On the Blazers’ next scoring possession, Hill stole the pass and got his own dunk at the other end on the fast break to give the Blazers a 39-24 lead with two minutes remaining.
“I got the deflection on the pass,” Hill said. “I was not sure if the defender was behind me, so I went up strong.”
After two AAU free throws, Dixie got the ball inside to newly-inserted Julien Ducree for the power move in the paint. Ducree then took a charge on defense to end the half with DSU enjoying a 41-26 advantage.
Hill led the team with 11 points at the half. The Blazers held a 50-40 percent shooting advantage and a 23-13 rebounding edge. DSU posts Montgomery and Hunter combined for 19 first-half points.
“We made it an emphasis to feed our big guys in the first half,” Dixie State point guard Daylor Youngblood said. “We knew that we had a size advantage and felt that we could take advantage there.”
Coming out of halftime, the Blazers pushed the lead to 44-26 on Kyler Nielson’s three point play. Shortly afterward, Hill picked up two quick fouls and the Knights began their comeback.
“I think (AAU Coach) Julius (Barnes) decided that if they were going to go down then they would go down swinging,” said Judkins. “They came out a lot more physical in the second half.”
Barnes is the older brother of DSU assistant coach Jeremy Barnes.
The teams combined for 58 foul calls with six players fouling out. The Blazers actually made more fouls shots (24) than the Knights attempted (23) and had a 10-point advantage from the charity stripe.
After the Blazers got to the 65-49 advantage, they would score their final nine points at the free throw line to pull out the win.
The Blazers outshot AAU 44-36 percent from the floor for the game and maintained their rebounding edge, 45-33. Joining Hill in double figures were Hunter (11) and Montgomery (10). Isaiah Clark led the team with nine rebounds.
With the win, Dixie State improves to 4-4 overall and 1-0 in the PacWest. They will have a week off before hosting Azusa Pacific next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Academy of Art falls to 1-7.
Dixie State 77, Academy of Art 73
The Dixie State women’s basketball team improved to 5-3 with a win in its first conference game. Freshman point guard Mariah Martin scored 21 points and dished out five assists. Also scoring in double figures were Kristin Baldwin (11), Tramina Jordan (10) and Keslee Stevenson (10). Jordan and Ali Franks also had five assists. Baldwin led the team with eight rebounds.
Dixie State was outshot 43-38 percent from the floor, but held a decisive advantage at the free throw line where the Blazers outscored AAU 22-11.
Dixie State will host Azusa Pacific next Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
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