HONOLULU – Dixie State won its 10th-straight game and maintained its first-place standing in the Pacific West Conference with a hard-fought 71-65 victory at Hawaii Pacific Saturday afternoon at Moanalua High School. The win moved the Trailblazers to 16-6 overall, 13-2 in PacWest play.
Dixie State opened up an early 22-12 lead on the strength of a 15-4 run, including nine-straight points that erased an 8-7 Shark advantage. Brandon Simister nailed three jumpers in the rally, including a big 3-pointer, as the Trailblazers hit seven of their eight shots from the floor during that stretch.
HPU stayed within striking distance thanks to the hot hand of Jonathan Janssen, who poured in 10 of his 14 first-half points after the DSU run to help the Sharks trim the deficit to 32-29 with under a minute to play. However DSU would take a 34-29 cushion into the locker room after Trevor Hill hit two free throws just before the halftime buzzer.
The Trailblazers would quickly push their lead back to double digits to begin the second half as Hill and Zac Hunter converted on a pair of conventional three-point plays on consecutive possessions to extend to a 42-32 advantage. Then after the Sharks cut that lead to 44-37, Dixie State rattled off a 14-7 spurt, aided by two more Simister 3-pointers, en route to its biggest lead of the game at 58-44 with 10:31 to play.
Dixie State then went ice cold offensively as the Trailblazers went more than six minutes without a field goal and missed on four of six free throws, which allowed the Sharks to pull to within seven at 60-53 at the 5:53 mark.
Julien Ducree finally broke the drought with a jumper with 3:38 to go. Ducree then added a thunderous dunk late in the shot clock on a Simister feed with under two minutes to play, while DSU went 5 of 6 from the charity stripe to extend back to a double-digit lead at 69-58 with 44 seconds left, and Dixie State held on from there to clinch the win.
Simister finished with a game-high 21 points on a blistering 6 of 8 shooting, including 4 of 6 from the perimeter, along with four assists and two rebounds. The senior guard (1,020 points) also became just the seventh player in Dixie State’s NCAA era to reach the 1,000-point plateau, doing so on a free throw early in the first half.
In all, three Trailblazers scored in double figures as Hill tallied 15 points with three assists and Hunter chipped in 11 points to go along with six rebounds. Meanwhile, Ducree just missed his first double-double of the year as the junior finished with nine points and a career-high tying eight boards.
DSU shot 45.1 percent (23 of 51) from the floor, which included a season-high .556 (5 of 9) from beyond the arc, but managed to only hit on 57.1 percent (20 of 35) from the foul line. Dixie State’s defense limited HPU to a 32.2 percent shooting night (19 of 59), and just 28.6 percent (8 of 28) from the perimeter, though the Sharks did outrebound the Trailblazers by a 40-36 margin.
Janssen led HPU with 19 points, while DSU held the PacWest’s leading scorer, Niksha Federico (21.8 ppg), in check for most of the game, though he did finish with 16 points (3 of 15 shooting), with half of those points coming at the line (8 of 8).
It’s worth noting that Azusa Pacific lost at Biola Saturday, leaving the Cougars at 11-4 and in a third-place tie with Point Loma. Cal Baptist takes over second place with a 10-3 PacWest record, two games behind the 13-2 Trailblazers. The two teams split a pair of games this season, each winning on their home floors. DSU has five regular season games left, including three at home.
Dixie State returns home for its final home stand of the 2017-18 season, which begins with a matchup against Hawaii Hilo in the Burns Arena on Saturday, Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m.
Stats: DSU 71, HPU 65
Hawaii Pacific 76, Dixie State 73
The Trailblazers took the first-place Sharks to the wire, but couldn’t finish on the road Saturday afternoon.
DSU (10-12, 6-9 PacWest) found itself in an early 12-6 hole in the first frame, but closed the quarter on a 10-5 run to trim the HPU lead to 17-16. Maile Richardson sparked the run with a layup, while Tramina Jordan and Matti Ventling each buried a 3-pointer before the first quarter came to an end.
The teams traded baskets through the first three minutes of the second quarter until a Keslee Stevenson trey and a Mariah Martin layup propelled DSU to a 25-24 lead. Stevenson canned another triple on the next Trailblazer possession to give the visitors a game-high lead of 28-24 at the 5:34 mark. The Sharks quickly regained the lead, closing the half on a 13-5 run to take a 37-33 lead at halftime.
Dixie State pulled even for two different ties in the third quarter, first at 37-37 and later at 44-44. But, similar to the second quarter, HPU closed the frame on a 12-5 run to build a 56-49 lead heading to the final period.
The Trailblazers opened the final frame with a 9-2 run, including four points from Taylor Moeaki and a Morgan Myers 3-pointer, to tie the game at 58-58 at the 7:14 mark. After another back-and-forth stretch, HPU seemed poised to put the game away and used a 9-2 run to build a 74-66 lead with 1:42 remaining. But, DSU wouldn’t go down easy, responding with a 7-0 run to pull to within 74-73. However, HPU pushed the lead back to 76-73 with a pair of free throws, and a DSU half-court heave at the buzzer fell short.
Dixie State shot a season-best 48 percent (29 of 60) from the field, 30 percent (7 of 23) from the 3-point range, and 67 percent (8 of 12) from the free throw line. Richardson led two DSU players in double figures with a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds on a perfect 6 of 6 from the field. Stevenson added 11 points with three 3-pointers.
The Trailblazers open a three-game home stand inside the Burns Arena next Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
Stats: HPU 76, DSU 73
PacWest Conference Men’s Basketball Standings (conference, overall)
Dixie State 13-2, 16-6
Cal Baptist 10-3, 17-4
Point Loma 11-4, 17-7
Azusa Pacific 11-4, 15-8
Chaminade 9-5, 14-7
Academy of Art 8-7, 9-12
Concordia 7-7, 13-9
Hawaii Pacific 6-7, 11-10
Holy Names 5-9, 9-16
Hawaii Hilo 4-7, 5-13
Dominican 4-9, 5-15
Notre Dame de Namur 4-10, 5-14
Biola 3-11, 9-13
Fresno Pacific 3-13, 5-19
PacWest Conference Women’s Basketball Standings (conference, overall)
Hawaii Pacific 12-1, 18-2
Azusa Pacific 13-2, 22-3
Dominican 9-5, 15-7
Concordia 8-6, 11-9
Notre Dame de Namur 6-8, 9-13
Fresno Pacific 9-7, 11-13
Point Loma 8-7, 13-9
Dixie State 6-9, 10-12
Cal Baptist 7-6, 10-11
Biola 7-7, 10-10
Hawaii Hilo 4-8, 6-9
Academy of Art 5-10, 6-17
Holy Names 3-11, 4-18
Chaminade 2-12, 2-14
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