DSU men split games during Calif. road trip

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California Baptist University followers took to twitter before its showdown with Dixie State University, showing hopes of winning with the hashtag #beatdixie.

The men’s basketball team’s game against conference foe California Baptist University took the Red Storm into hostile territory. The hopeful hashtag ended up being correct as CBU beat the Red Storm 100-90.

This was the first meeting between the two teams this year and the first time the Red Storm men have lost to the Lancers in school history. The rematch between the two teams is scheduled at Burns Arena March 1.

Facing an undefeated CBU squad at home, Dixie knew it would need to give its best to win on the road.

Saturday’s game ended with the Lancers’ victory after a hard-fought game from the top two teams in the Pacific West Conference.

Both teams came into the game nationally ranked: CBU ranked No. 18 and Dixie State at No. 12. There was a lot on the line for both teams with the high national rankings.

“It was a good atmosphere, and they had a good crowd,” said center Jordan Rex, a junior criminal justice major from St. George.

Cal Baptist freshman Ryan Berg fed off the wild crowd and a little bit of luck as he led the Lancers with 27 points in the first half. Berg shot an amazing eight for nine from downtown, including a half-court buzzer beater that gave CBU a 20-point lead at the half.

“Give these guys a lot of credit,” head coach Jon Judkins said. “They are a lot better than what we thought they were.”

With the defeat, the Red Storm lost only their second game of the season.

Judkins pointed to defense as the main point of emphasis for improvement going forward.

“It all starts with defense,” Judkins said.  “You can’t give a good team a 20-point lead.”

After halftime, the Red Storm faced an uphill battle and outscored their opponent 57-47 in the second half. But DSU ultimately fell to the Lancers in a 10-point loss 100-90.

Even in the loss, Dixie State dominated the boards against CBU. The Red Storm pulled down 50 rebounds to the Lancers’ 36.

“It was one of the keys we focused on for the game,” said Rex. “We knew that we needed to crash (the boards) every time to try and make it competitive in the second half.”

Junior forward Zach Robbins led all players with 14 boards.

Both of the Storm’s point guards also ended up scoring in double figures; senior guard Kimball Payne scored 14 points and sophomore guard Mason Sawyer finished with 13.

Again, it was a tale of two halves for Dixie as the Red Storm rolled into Azusa Pacific University for the second of their three-game road trip.

Down by seven at the break, Dixie State stormed back in the second half.

In a close battle throughout, Dixie completed the comeback win from the free throw line. Robbins and senior forward Louis Garrett sank the game clinching free throws in the last minute of the game, leading the Storm to an 82-75 come-from-behind victory.

The Red Storm finished 82 percent from the free throw line as a team.

Robbins was the statistical star of the night, leading both teams in points scored, minutes played, free throws made and rebounds.

With the win, the Red Storm hold a record of 14-2 overall and 8-2 in PacWest Conference play.

Dixie State will play at Point Loma Nazarene University  Jan. 25.