ST. GEORGE – Point Loma Nazarene’s Preston Beverly made two free throws with 37 seconds left and the Sea Lions survived two late scoring chances by Dixie State to come away with a 74-72 road victory at DSU’s Burns Arena Saturday evening.
“Trevor (Hill) penetrated and dished out to me and I had an open look,” Nielson said. “I shot with confidence and it felt great. It just didn’t go down.”
Dixie State had another shot after the Sea Lions missed two free throws following a foul on the rebound. But Nielson drove in the lane and the collapsing defense caused him to turn the ball over with three seconds left. PLNU then ran the final seconds off before DSU could foul again.
“We had so many chances to win this game,” Dixie State coach Jon Judkins said. “We were ahead with two minutes left and we told the guys we just needed two stops and two scores to win it, and we didn’t get them. We’ve got to figure out how to win these close games. We’ve had five now where it’s been tied or one possession with under three minutes left and we lost the game.”
This one especially hurts for two reasons: First, it was a home loss, something teams can’t afford to do in order to win the conference. And second, Dixie State looked like it had the game won with a seven-point lead with six minutes to play.
“We led the whole game, pretty much,” Judkins said. “Kylar missing that shot or turning the ball over isn’t what lost us the game. We didn’t do a good job of executing late and we gave up some offensive rebounds that we shouldn’t have. We’ve got to figure it out, and we will.”
The Blazers led by eight early in the second half after Nielson’s trey from the angle left. Point Loma chipped away at the lead and it was 57-all when the two teams traded treys with 11 minutes left.
Dixie State surged behind a couple of runners from Daylor Youngblood and a layup by Dub Price. When Wade Miller nailed a frozen rope trey with 6:03 to play to make it 68-61, Dixie State looked like it was on the way to a victory.
But Point Loma answered. Beverly hit two free throws and then Josh Rodriguez nailed a corner trey to cut it to 68-66. Dixie State led 72-69 after Hill hit a tear-drop runner in the lane from eight feet with 1:11 to play, but the Sea Lions replied with a trey by Tanner Nelson that tied the game with 56 seconds left.
After a timeout, DSU’s Brandon Simister drove the baseline, but had his shot blocked by Beverly. The loose ball stayed inbounds and Simister was called for a foul trying to get to it. That set Beverly up with what would eventually be the winning free throws.
“We have a lot of respect for Dixie State – they traditionally have a fantastic team,” said PLNU coach Ryan Looney. “Our players and styles are very similar. Our guys, especially the last five minutes of the game, found some toughness and made some winning plays.”
Nielson was the top scorer for Dixie State with his 21 points. He also had five rebounds, while Simister finished with 16 points and four assists. Hill, who averages 19 points a game, had just eight. But he had four rebounds and seven assists.
Dixie State outrebounded Point Loma 38-29, but had more turnovers (19-15) and did not shoot well at the line (DSU was just 13 for 23 at the charity stripe).
The loss drops Dixie State to just 6-6 overall and 3-2 in PacWest Conference play. The Trailblazers have lost three games this year by two points or less or in overtime.
“This is not a .500 team – we’re much better than that,” Judkins said. “The important thing is that we are getting better every day. The teams in this conference are so close, we just need to keep improving.”
Beverly led Point Loma with 23 points and Tanner Nelson had 21. The Sea Lions improved to 9-5 overall and 3-2 in conference play.
This was the first of four straight home games for Dixie State. The Blazers play Biola Wednesday night at Burns Arena. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.
Stats: PLNU 74, DSU 72
PLNU 85, DSU 80 (F/OT)
The Trailblazers (6-6, 2-3 PacWest) erased an eight-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter, closing the frame on a 14-6 run to force the extra session. Matti Ventling scored five points during the run, including her fourth triple of the contest. DSU tied the game at 70-70 after Tramina Jordan buried a 3-pointer and Mariah Martin added a free throw. Point Loma had the final possession of regulation, but DSU held the Sea Lions without a shot attempt to get to overtime.
Dixie State took its only lead of the extra period at 74-73 when Ali Franks hit a jumper at the 3:25 mark. Point Loma responded with a 5-0 run to retake the lead at 78-74. The Trailblazers countered with two Franks free throws and a Taylor Moeaki layup to tie the game at 78-78 with 1:11remaining, but PLNU again responded with a 5-0 run to take an 83-78 lead. Ashlee Burge would add a layup on the next possession, but DSU would get no closer as PLNU sealed the 85-80 win with a pair of free throws.
The Trailblazers overcame a slow start in the first quarter, and closed the period on an 11-3 run to take an 18-17 lead into the second quarter after trailing 14-7 three minutes earlier. Ventling keyed the run with a pair of treys, while Morgan Myers also buried a triple during the stretch.
Point Loma used a 13-2 run in the second quarter to build its largest lead of the game at 34-23 with just over a minute until the halftime break. Dixie State responded with a Burge layup and a Franks 3-pointer to trim the lead to 34-28 at the break. The Trailblazers continued the run into the third quarter, eventually taking a 35-34 lead on a Moeaki jumper to cap a 12-0 spurt. The teams traded baskets throughout the rest of the quarter to set up the overtime finish.
Dixie State shot 34 percent (27-of-78) from the field, 34 percent (10-of-29) from 3-point range, and 61 percent (16-of-26) from the free throw. Moeaki led three DSU players in double figures with a career-high 20 points to go with six rebounds and four steals. Ventling added a season-high 16 points on 4-of-7 shooting from downtown, while Jordan chipped in 10 points.
The Trailblazers continue their four-game home stand next week, hosting Biola on Wednesday and Dominican on Friday. Both games will tip off at5:30 p.m.
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