Dixie State University has locked up the No. 1 seed in its first ever Pacific West Conference Tournament.
The Red Storm will have a bye for the first day of the three-day tournament beginning March 7. DSU will play either the No. 4 seed, Dominican University of California, or the No. 5 seed, Brigham Young University-Hawaii, after its bye. If DSU wins the game on March 8, it will play on March 9 for the PacWest Conference Tournament Championship.
The Red Storm were named conference champions outright after beating Point Loma Nazarene University Saturday, 68-47.
The Red Storm will have their work cut out for them after their bye. They played both the Dominican Penguins and BYU-Hawaii Seasiders one time each this year, and they lost both of those games. Both losses revealed some major holes on both sides of the ball.
The Penguins knocked off the Red Storm in California on Feb. 11, 75-78. The Red Storm were out-rebounded 32-23, and they were held to 45.3 percent from the field, well below their season average of 52.4. DSU only had 10 assists in the game.
“When we’re [sharing the ball], we run and we push the ball up; we’re pretty good,” head coach Jon Judkins said. “We tried to really force that, and we got some easy baskets that made a big difference.”
The Seasiders beat the Red Storm at home on Feb. 23, 75-80. The Seasiders were the only team to beat DSU in the Burns Arena during the season. BYU-Hawaii scored 30 points off of 24 forced DSU turnovers and scored 30 points in the paint.
“We’re going to go back to the fundamentals [in practice],” assistant coach Jake Schroeder said.
The winner of the PacWest Conference Tournament gets an automatic bid into the NCAA Division II Tournament.
Shroeder also said playing against BYU-Hawaii and Dominican gives the Red Storm motivation because they struggled against the two teams. He said both teams played really well against them, and both teams are desperate to get into the NCAA Tournament.
DSU finished the season at 20-6 overall and 15-3 in conference.
Dixie State took on Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego on March 2 and won 68-47.
The Red Storm had three players in double figures. Sophomore guard DeQuan Thompson led all scorers with 16, and sophomore forward Zach Robbins had a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. DSU held PLNU to only 30.2 percent from the field and 14.8 percent on 3-pointers.
All was not perfect in the 21-point win for the Red Storm, though. The Sea Lions forced 19 turnovers and scored 30 points in the paint. The Red Storm only shot 47.1 percent from the free throw line, making eight of the 17 chances.
Judkins said the team wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of everyone involved including the community and the fans.
The Red Storm will play on March 8 in Azusa, Calif. The game starts at 9 p.m.