LA MIRADA, Calif. – Fifty-four days ago, Dixie State lost a heartbreaking home contest to Point Loma, dropping the Trailblazers to 6-6 on the season and 3-2 in conference play. Amazingly, Dixie State hasn’t lost since, winning its 14th straight game with an 82-57 domination of Biola at Chase Gymnasium Thursday night.
“Well, we’re really playing well right now and we just want to keep it going,” Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins said. “We clinched co-champs tonight, and we’re feeling good about that, but we want it outright and that’s our focus right now.”
The Eagles, who were the first victims of the long win streak back on Jan. 3, had high hopes of knocking off the PacWest Conference leaders after taking the Trailblazers to the buzzer in St. George last month. And the game started off well, with Blake Shannon burying a 3-pointer and Alex Talma scoring in the paint for an early 5-2 Biola lead.
But Dixie State scored nine straight points, with four by Trevor Hill and a three-point play by Isaiah Clark, to seize an 11-5 lead with 15:59 left in the first half. The Trailblazers would never trail again.
“We talked about it in pregame, to win these little four-minute battles between media timeouts,” Judkins said. “We got that first one and we were trying to win every one of those little four-minute battles. Our defense was really good tonight. To hold them under 60 points was huge. Defense wins championships.”
Hill was fantastic in the first half, making 6 of 9 shots, including a 3-pointer, and dishing out three assists. Thursday, he became the first player in DSU history to mount the 400-assist plateau. With five in the game, Hill now has a school-record 404 assists in his career. He finished the game with 15 points and five rebounds as well.
The Eagles stayed within striking distance for the next 10 minutes and it was 21-18 with 9:19 to go in the first after a jumper by Shannon. But Dixie State again went on a run. Zac Hunter started it with a transition 3 as the Blazers went on a 13-3 rampage. Simister and Hill also buried deep balls in the stretch that increased the DSU advantage to 34-21 with 4:22 left in the half.
Any thoughts of a Biola comeback were quashed early in the second half. Isaiah Jones scored out of the locker room to cut it to 41-29, but Dixie State scored five quick points on a trey by Hunter and a bucket in the paint by Kyler Nielson to push it to 17 at 46-29 and the Eagles never got closer than 10 the rest of the game.
Clark, the senior post player for the Blazers known as “Slim” to coaches and teammates, set a new career high with 16 points. He also had six rebounds and made 7 of 10 field goals in the game.
“Man, he played hard tonight,” Judkins said. “The scouting report was that their bigs are really physical and we told him we needed him to play just as physical. We didn’t have Julian (Ducree, injured knee), so we needed a big game from Slim. His mom was here and he really wanted to play well in front of her.”
DSU continues to shoot the ball very well. The Blazers made 34 of 63 shots from the floor (54 percent) and 7 of 16 from beyond the arc (44 percent). Biola, meanwhile, made just 21 of 58 shots (36 percent) and hit just 5 of 18 3-pointers (28 percent). Dixie outrebounded Biola 38-33.
The scoring was balanced for the Blazers, who clinched at least a tie for first place in the PacWest with the win. Along with Clark’s 16 and Hill’s 15, Hunter had 10 points, Dub Price added nine and Austin Montgomery had eight. Ten different players had three points or more for DSU.
Dixie State is now 20-6 overall and 17-2 in PacWest play, still one game ahead of Cal Baptist (16-3) and two games ahead of Point Loma (15-4) with one game remaining. The Blazers play at PLNU Saturday afternoon (4 p.m. PT) to close out the regular season. CBU, which beat Dominican Thursday night, finishes with a road game at 7-12 Holy Names University.
“This is what we dream about, to be champions,” Judkins said. “It’s what all these guys have thought about and what they want. Point Loma has been saying a lot of crap, so my guys are fired up for that game. We’ve just got to get some rest tonight and tomorrow and go get them on Saturday.”
Biola was led by Jones, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds. Talma had 11 points and 11 boards for the Eagles, who finish the season with an 11-17 overall record, 5-15 in the PWC.
Stats: DSU 82, Biola 57
Biola 73, DSU 56
A horrible start to the game cost the Trailblazers any chance in this one. DSU never led and started the game in an 11-3 hole. By the end of the first quarter, the Eagles had forged a 25-8 advantage.
Demoria White was the catalyst. The Biola guard hit four 3-pointers in the first few minutes of the game, including a deep trey with 29 seconds left in the first quarter that gave the Eagles a 17-point edge.
Biola led by as many as 21 in the second quarter. Dixie State made a run in the third and got it down to an 11-point game (57-46) after a 3-pointer by Matti Ventling with 5:09 left in the third. But White hit two more 3-pointers and Danielle Kennedy buried a deep ball for a 9-0 run to push the lead back to 20 at 66-46. The Blazers got no closer than 16 the rest of the game.
Dixie State, 12-14 overall and 8-11 in the PacWest, was led by Ventling, with 15 points and three steals. Ali Franks was the only other DSU player in double figures with nine points and three assists. The Eagles dominated the boards with a 43-27 rebounding advantage. White led all scorers with 29 points, plus three assists and five boards.
Biola improves to 14-12 overall and 11-9 in PWC play.
DSU closes the year with a road game at Point Loma Saturday. Game time is 2 p.m. (PT).
Stats: Biola 73, DSU 56
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