ST. GEORGE – Wade Miller nailed six 3-pointers and Trevor Hill just missed on a triple-double as the Dixie State Trailblazers gutted out an 87-74 PacWest victory over Fresno Pacific Friday night at Burns Arena.
“We really missed Brandon tonight,” DSU coach Jon Judkins said during his radio postgame show. “Thank goodness Bubba (Miller) was on. He was the one guy that had confidence against the zone to step up and hit the 3.”
Miller was on fire, making 6 of 11 from downtown and 7 of 13 shots overall. Even after turning an ankle in the second half, Miller returned to the game and hit a couple of more treys.
“Brandon would have had a big game tonight because he’s such a good shooter against the zone,” Judkins said. “But we’ve got to have other guys step up. This wasn’t one of our better games, but it’s good to see that we don’t have to play a perfect game to still get a win.”
Dixie State struggled in the first half, turning the ball over five times and making just 11 of 31 shots. Judkins said he was frustrated with his team’s sometimes selfish play in the first 20 minutes.
“We can’t come out and think we’re going to beat people just by showing up,” he said. “We let them have a 10-0 run to start the game. I told the guys at halftime to just do the things we taught and play together and to make that extra pass, which leads to easy baskets.”
The pep talk worked as DSU started the second half by outscoring the Sunbirds 18-6 over the first six minutes of play. It started with a tip-in by Hill and then Miller hit a trey from the corner to make it 40-36. After an FPU basket, Kyler Nielson scored and Miller hit another trey to make it 45-40.
Isaiah Clark and Hill scored as part of the run, followed by a free throw by Quincy Mathews and Miller as the lead ballooned to 53-42.
The Sunbirds were able to close within 68-65 with 7:19 left in the game after a trey by Tyler Harris and a layup by Adrian Antunez and Fresno Pacific was thinking upset.
It stayed tight and with 4:49 to play, it was still a four-point game at 75-71. But Dixie State owned the final four-plus minutes. Daylor Youngblood hit a jumper and Zac Hunter followed with a pair of free throws to make it 79-71. Miller then swished home his sixth trey of the night with 2:39 left on the clock to push the lead to 82-71 and DSU cruised home from there.
“We’ve definitely got a bulls-eye on our backs now,” Judkins said about his first-place Trailblazers. “But good teams figure out a way to win. When we play defense and start to run, that’s when our leads go up.”
DSU had just two turnovers in the second half and had five players reach double figures in scoring. Along with Miller and Hill, the trio of Nielson, Hunter and Dub Price scored 10 points each. Price also had seven rebounds and three assists. Dixie State had 20 assists on 28 made baskets in the game. Hill also pulled into a tie for first place on Dixie State’s career steals list with his 142nd career steal with 26 seconds to play in the contest.
The win is the eighth in a row and preserves first place in the PacWest Conference for the Trailblazers, who are now 14-6 overall and 11-2 in the PWC. Azusa Pacific and Cal Baptist each lost once in the past week. The Cougars are a game behind DSU at 10-3 after losing to Cal Baptist Thursday night. The Lancers fell to Concordia last Saturday and are at 8-3 in conference play (see standings below).
Dixie State has two games in Hawaii next week. The Blazers play at Chaminade Thursday (10:30 p.m. MST) and then take on Hawaii Pacific Saturday (Feb. 3), also at 10:30 p.m. MST.
Stats: DSU 87, FPU 74
DSU 88, FPU 86
Morgan Myers grabbed an offensive rebound and scored the winning basket with 13 seconds remaining, and the Trailblazers (10-10, 6-7 PacWest) forced a 3-point miss on the defensive end to capture the victory in a seesaw game that saw 18 lead changes and 13 ties.
Ashlee Burge led six DSU players in double-figures with a season-high 17 points to go with five rebounds and four assists. Burge was also a perfect 7 of 7 from the field and converted 3 of 4 attempts from the free throw line. Keslee Stevenson added 15 points on 5 of 11 3-point shooting, including two critical triples late in the second half. Mariah Martin finished with 12 points and five assists in her first appearance since Jan. 3, while Kristin Baldwin chipped 11 points, 17 rebounds and four blocks for her seventh double-double of the season. Taylor Moeaki also finished with 11 points and five assists, while Maile Richardson added 10 points.
Both teams came out firing as Fresno Pacific shot 58 percent (7-of-12) and Dixie State shot 52 percent (10-of-19) in the opening frame. The Trailblazers built a 13-8 lead midway through the quarter, but the Sunbirds responded with a 7-2 run to tie the game at 15-15. DSU countered with an 11-6 run over the next three minutes to take a 26-21 lead late in the quarter.
The game went back and forth through the first five minutes of the second quarter until Dixie State used a 13-2 run to take a 42-33 advantage at the 3:28 mark. Stevenson sparked the run with a 3-pointer, while Moeaki and Martin added four points each during the stretch. The Sunbirds answered with an 8-2 run to cut the lead to 45-41 at halftime.
The first five minutes of the third quarter were a virtual carbon copy of the second quarter, as the lead seesawed back and forth until FPU forward Cassie Pisik hit a jumper to tie the game at 54-54 with 3:39 remaining. The basket sparked a 10-0 run for the Sunbirds to build a 62-54 at the 1:57 mark. Unfazed, DSU countered with a 9-2 run to trim the lead to 64-63 heading to the final period. Moeaki scored the first five points of the run, followed by a pair of Myers free throws and a Burge layup to cap the stretch.
The Trailblazers continued the run in the fourth quarter as Burge added back-to-back layups to push the run total to 13-2 over a three-minute stretch and power DSU to a 67-64 lead. The Sunbirds answered with a 9-3 run to take a 73-70 lead at the 5:03 mark. The teams traded baskets over the next three and half minutes until Stevenson buried back-to-back triples to give Dixie State an 83-82 lead with 1:18 remaining. The teams again traded baskets until FPU converted a pair of free throws to tie the game at 86-86 with 21 seconds remaining. After a DSU timeout, Myers scored the winning basket, and the Trailblazers held on the ensuing FPU possession to clinch the victory.
Dixie State shot 41 percent (31-of-75) from the field, 25 percent (7-of-28) from 3-point range, and 79 percent (19-of-24) from the free throw line. The Trailblazers got big contributions from the bench in the win, matching a season-high 47 points off the bench.
The Trailblazers now head back on the road to the Hawaii to battle Chaminade on Thursday and Hawai’i Pacific next Saturday.
PacWest Conference Men’s Basketball Standings (conference, overall)
Dixie State 11-2, 14-6
Azusa Pacific 10-3, 14-7
Cal Baptist 8-3, 15-4
Point Loma 9-4, 15-7
Chaminade 7-4, 12-6
Concordia 6-5, 13-7
Academy of Art 6-6, 7-11
Hawaii Pacific 5-5, 10-8
Holy Names 5-7, 9-14
Dominican 4-7, 5-13
Hawaii Hilo 3-6, 4-12
Notre Dame de Namur 3-8, 4-12
Fresno Pacific 3-11, 5-17
Biola 1-10, 7-12
PacWest Conference Women’s Basketball Standings (conference, overall)
Hawaii Pacific 9-1, 15-2
Azusa Pacific 11-2, 20-3
Dominican 8-3, 14-5
Concordia 7-4, 10-7
Notre Dame de Namur 6-5, 9-10
Fresno Pacific 7-7, 9-13
Point Loma 6-7, 11-9
Dixie State 6-7, 10-10
Cal Baptist 5-6, 8-11
Biola 5-6, 8-9
Hawaii Hilo 4-5, 6-6
Academy of Art 4-8, 5-15
Holy Names 2-10, 3-17
Chaminade 1-10, 1-12
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