Dixie State University men’s basketball gave students a warm welcome back from winter break with an explosive victory over Notre Dame de Namur University Jan. 14, and a thrilling overtime loss to Point Loma Nazarene University Monday.
In the first game against NDNU, senior guard Mason Sawyer and sophomore guard Trevor Hill combined for 36 points on 13 of 17 from the field in the wire-to-wire 70-48 win. Along with leading the team in scoring, both players finished with three assists to guide the Storm.
Sawyer went 4 to 5 from downtown and, on his third make from distance, made history by becoming just the fourth player in the DSU Division II era with 100 career 3-pointers made.
Senior forward Mark Ogden Jr. finished one bucket shy of posting his team leading sixth double-double of the season, finishing with eight points and 11 boards.
DSU dominated from the tip, jumping out to a 7-0 lead just two minutes into the first frame. The Storm never looked back en route to holding their opponent to the lowest point total since they beat Pacifica College 107-44 in November 2013.
The second and final game of the Storms’ short home-stand was not as easy as the one prior.
DSU welcomed the Point Loma Sea Lions to St. George on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and prior to the matinee showdown, PLNU had never won a game in Burns Arena.
The Sea Lions changed Monday in a seesaw battle that saw both team with the lead in the waning moments.
“We knew coming in that it would be a tough game,” said Hill, a business administration major from Sandy. “Obviously we can play better than we did tonight. We didn’t have the energy or excitement that we needed in the first half.”
After a slow start, the Storm found themselves down by 14 with under 10 minutes to play. Forced to mount a furious rally, DSU went on a 10-0 run thanks in part to 3-pointers from Sawyer and sophomore guard Brandon Simister to close the gap to four in the final minutes of regulation.
Simister was then fouled on a 3-point attempt and hit all three from the charity stripe, pulling the Storm within one. PLNU hit a corner three, but junior forward Josh Fuller finished a put-back layup to keep the Storm within striking distance.
From that point on, the two teams traded baskets until, with less than a second remaining, Hill converted a contested layup to knot the game up at 61 and force overtime.
The back-and-forth battle continued in the extra period, as the teams exchanged what seemed like knockout blows. Every DSU bucket was answered by a Point Loma 3-pointer on the other end and subsequently, the Storm trailed by three with under 10 seconds to play when Hill was fouled on a layup attempt.
After knocking down the first, Hill intentionally missed the second and Fuller soared through the lane for the would-be tying tip in. Fuller came up just short and PLNU escaped with the 76-72 win.
“It’s always tough to lose like that,” head coach Jon Judkins said. “We have to come in ready to play from the start and we didn’t do that tonight. I liked the way we battled back, but in order to win games like this, you need a complete effort.”
The loss dropped the Storm to 7-7 on the season, a place that Judkins is familiar with.
“We were in the same position last year before we made the trip to Hawaii. We went out there and got some big wins that really turned our season around. We’ll make this trip with the same mindset and hope to do the same thing this time around.”
As Judkins alluded to, the Storm will now make their annual trip to the Aloha State to take on three conference opponents starting at University of Hawaii-Hilo Thursday.