Dixie State University hosted Holy Names University in the final game of the regular season Saturday. The Trailblazers nearly led wire-to-wire and took down the Hawks, 78-60.
Junior guard Brandon Simister led all scorers in the game with 14 points including 4-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Simister also dished six assists to help DSU as it assisted on 23 field goals throughout the game.
“It helps when we have guys hitting outside shots,” said Hunter, a finance major from American Fork. “It just opens up everything and that’s why we are able to run our offense so well.”
Junior guard Trevor Hill stuffed the state sheet as he flirted with a triple double, recording eight points, eight assists and six rebounds. DSU had a very balanced scoring attack as 12 Trailblazers scored at least two points.
DSU got off to a quick start against the Hawks jumping out to a 23-7 lead within the first ten minutes of play. The Hawks used a 19-7 run in the final seven minutes of the first half to cut the lead to one going into halftime.
“Coach got on us at halftime,” Hunter said. “We let up at the end of the first half, and he wanted us to play like we wanted to play next week in the tournament.”
The Hawks scored the first basket of the second half to take their only lead of the game. The advantage lasted less than a minute as DSU went on a 10-0 run and would never trail again.
The Trailblazers continued to shoot well from the field as they torched the nets at a clip of 63 percent in the second half including 80 percent on their 3-point attempts. DSU led by as many as 20 points before finishing on top, 78-60.
“We struggled a bit in the first half,” said junior guard Daylor Youngblood, a finance major from South Jordan. “In the second half we picked it up, and we know that when we defend and rebound we are really good.”
Alongside Simister and Hill, junior forward Zac Hunter finished the game with 12 points. Youngblood and sophomore forward Austin Montgomery each recorded eight points to aid the Trailblazers.
With the win, DSU finished the season with an overall record of 19-7 and a Pacific West Conference record of 16-4, which was good enough to land them a third-place finish in the conference standings.
The Trailblazers enter the PacWest Conference tournament as the three seed and will play Point Loma University in the first round of the tourney, which will take place in Irvine, California.
This will mark the third time this season DSU and PLU will face each other. The two teams split the regular season series. The Sea Lions enter the conference tournament as the five seed and were the victor in the last matchup with DSU Jan. 14.
DSU struggled in that game shooting just 41 percent from the field and 21 percent from deep. Head coach Jon Judkins said his team will need to make some adjustments in order to win the rematch.
“We’ll watch film and show them what we need to change,” Judkins said. “Our guys will be ready because they were pretty upset when we lost to them last time.”
DSU and PLU will square off in Irvine, California Thursday at 3:45 p.m. with the winner advancing to the conference semi-finals Friday.