OAKLAND, Calif. – Maybe it’s the ocean-infused California air? Or maybe it’s the camaraderie of playing as a team on the road? Or perhaps it’s the smallish gymnasiums in the Division II PacWest Conference? Whatever it may be, there’s no doubt that Dixie State shoots the ball really well away from home.
After hitting 54.9 percent of their shots at Notre Dame de Namur Saturday night, the Trailblazers one-upped themselves by nailing 56.6 of their shots in a 75-57 victory over Holy Names University inside Tobin Gymnasium Monday evening.
“This was a really physical game,” DSU head coach Jon Judkins said. “Holy Names is a good team that can run and trap, but the biggest thing was their physicality. We talked about it at halftime, how we had to stick with the fundamentals – block out, coming to the ball, making the extra pass – and we had to be smart. I think we did that in the second half.”
It was a tight game in the first half, with DSU clinging to a 31-28 advantage at the break behind seven points from Kyler Nielson. The second half started like the first half ended, with the two teams trading baskets. A layup by Marcelas Perry had the Hawks within 38-37 with 16:13 left in the game.
That’s when the sharp shooting touch started to kick in for the Blazers. Isaiah Clark and Wade Miller both made layups and Trevor Hill hit a jumper as it went quickly to 45-37. After an HNU basket, Hill and Dub Price made baskets in the lane, followed by a fast-break layup by Price and a basket in the paint by Austin Montgomery. By the time the Hawks could stop the bleeding, Dixie State had turned a close game into a 53-39 blowout with 10:20 left to play.
During that nearly six-minute stretch, Dixie State made 7 of 9 shots while holding the Hawks to 1 for 9 shooting. It ended up as a 15-2 run.
“In the second half, we started getting layups and wide open jump shots from 12 to 15 feet,” Judkins said. “A lot of that is because we started making that one extra pass. They would double when we went into the post, but we weren’t making that extra pass to make them rotate over. We did a better job of that after halftime.”
The second half was downright dominant for the Blazers, who improved to 11-6 overall and 8-2 in the PWC. Dixie State outscored Holy Names 44-29 after intermission and shot a blistering 65.4 percent from the floor (17 for 26) to the Hawks’ 32.3 percent (10 for 31).
Dixie State, which has now won five straight and nine of the last 11 games, outrebounded HNU 37-32 and had nine steals in the game, including two by Daylor Youngblood. The Trailblazers had four players in double-figure scoring and seven different players with at least seven points. Hill had 11 points and seven boards, while Nielson, Julien Ducree and Zac Hunter had 10 points each.
Dixie State continues its four-game Bay Area road trip with a game Thursday at Dominican in San Rafael, California. Tipoff for that one is 7:30 p.m. (PST), then the Blazers will complete the road trip with a Saturday matchup in San Francisco against Academy of Art.
Azusa Pacific and Cal Baptist also won Monday, meaning Dixie State is tied atop the PacWest at 8-2 with the Cougars and a half-game ahead of the Lancers, who are 7-2. DSU’s next home game is Friday, Jan. 26, against Fresno Pacific. Holy Names drops to 7-12 and 3-6 with Monday’s loss.
Stats: DSU 75, HNU 57
DSU 78, HNU 66
Ali Franks had 20 points and Taylor Moeaki had 18 points and seven assists as the Trailblazers came up with the big road win.
DSU had lost two straight and six out of the last seven games before Monday afternoon’s victory.
Dixie State blew them out early, building a 43-30 halftime advantage. Franks, Moeaki and Matti Ventling led the way in the first two quarters, combining for 33 points. The Blazers made seven 3-pointers in the first half, including four by Ventling.
The lead grew to 19 in the third quarter before the Hawks made a run. Holy Names cut it down to 58-49 at the end of the third after a basket by Sierra Franklin with one second to go in the quarter.
The Hawks got as close as six (58-52) after a trey by Ariana Hernandez to open the fourth quarter, and things got scary for the visitors when HNU pulled to within 64-62 on a basket by Sara Jones with 4:08 left in the game.
But the Blazers responded with one of their top late-game surges of the season. DSU outscored HNU 14-4 the rest of the way, including a 3-pointer by Ventling and some icing free throws by Moeaki.
Ventling and Kristin Baldwin also ended up in double figures with 15 and 11 points, respectively.
DSU was 11 for 26 from deep (42.3 percent), but managed just 15 for 31 from the free throw line (48.4 percent). However, Moeaki hit 5 out of 6 in the game’s final 30 seconds.
Dixie State, 8-9 overall and 4-6 in the Pac West Conference, visits Dominican Thursday night. Holy Names, 2-15 and 1-8, was led by Onjalise Carley-Hilliard, who had 15 points.
Stats: DSU 76, HNU 66
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