The Dixie State University basketball teams put themselves in great position for post-season play last week with three wins from the men and one from the women,
DSU mens’ basketball had a good weekend; so good in fact, it is now sitting atop the Pacific West Conference.
The Storm came into the Burns Arena riding a four-game win streak and looked to build on that on Thursday when they faced Chaminade University, a team fighting for a tournament bid.
A hard-fought battle throughout the game, DSU rode the 3-ball to victory. Junior guard Mason Sawyer and senior guard DeQuan Thompson each netted four shots from distance en route to the 93-91 victory.
Thompson finished with 22 points and five assists. Sawyer stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points, six assists, six rebounds and four steals. Senior center Zach Robbins had 20 points and pulled down six boards.
PacWest Freshman of the Week Trevor Hill added 11 points. Junior guard Robbie Nielson only hit one field goal in the win, but it may have been the biggest one of all. With one minute remaining, Nielson hit a contested 3-pointer to break an 84-84 tie.
“Robbie does the little things out there,” head coach Jon Judkins said. “He does things that don’t usually show up on the stat sheet and he does it in crucial moments.”
With BYU-Hawaii’s loss at APU, the Storm moved into first place in the PacWest.
On the night of Valentine’s, DSU faced the University of Hawaii at Hilo.
Dixie State shot a season-high 62.7 percent from the field to drown the Vulcans in the second half and secure its sixth straight win. Nielson, a business administration major from Gresham, Oregon, said he thinks it’s due to the team’s pace of play.
“We have been focusing on playing our game at our tempo,” Nielson said. “Last night, we played with energy and rebounded.”
Sawyer had 16 points, Ogden notched 15 and Thompson added 13.
Following the highest shooting output of the season, DSU looked to stay hot against Hawaii Pacific on Monday night.
Fortunately, the Storm used stingy defense and tough rebounding to counteract the poor shooting. DSU held the Sharks to a dismal 27.8 percent and forced 18 turnovers. Dixie ran away in the final minutes by converting those turnovers into transition points, including a Robbins two-handed dunk off a no-look pass from Thompson.
The victory over the Sharks was Dixie State’s season-best seventh consecutive win, pushing it one step closer to snagging the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
Fighting for a conference tournament birth, the DSU women played three extremely pivotal league games last week.
First, the Storm faced Chaminade University of Hawaii. After an even first half, DSU led 38-36.
Much like the rest of the season, costly turnovers led to the Storm’s demise.
“We’ve been working on it all year [limiting turnovers],” head coach Jenny Thigpin said. “We are a young team, and sometimes that is what happens; we just have to be persistent and keep improving.”
Following the loss to Chaminade, Dixie looked to bounce back against Hawaii Hilo.
The focus seemed to pay off as DSU only turned the ball over 13 times, the second lowest total of the season, en route to a 70-62 win.
Dixie got several stops in the last two minutes and hit clutch free throws down the stretch, earning its eighth victory of the year. Junior guard Chermayne Moore, a psychology major from Pinole, California, attributes the improved play to taking care of the ball and playing with effort on the other end.
“We’ve really been working on limiting our turnovers and picking up our defensive pressure,” Moore said. “Our goal is to improve every game and work as a team.”
That team work guided DSU to victory as the Storm assisted on all four of its made 3-pointers and scored 18 second-chance points.
A glaring bright spot in the otherwise uneventful game, was when senior guard Kaylah Miller stepped to the free throw line with just under five minutes left.
With the shot, Miller reached a milestone that had only been achieved by one other women’s basketball player at Dixie State; 1,000 points.
Miller joined Johnna Brown as the only two players in DSU history to reach the “1,000 point club.”
Despite the loss, Moore added 16 points and Miller scored in double figures for the seventh consecutive game.
The Storm will play at Fresno Pacific on Feb. 21.