Dixie State University basketball tipped-off its season in exciting fashion last week as it welcomed three teams to the Burns Arena for the Dixie State Classic.
DSU played host to perennial Division II powerhouse Seattle Pacific University, Concordia University of California, and Concordia University of Oregon.
Seattle Pacific and Concordia met in the first contest, and Concordia took the defending Great Northwest Athletic Conference champions down in overtime.
DSU came out firing on all cylinders as it jumped out to a quick 11-2 lead, highlighted by sophomore guard Trevor Hill, who scored six early points and capped off the run with a dunk in transition.
“We defended well, and that’s what creates those open-court opportunities,” head coach Jon Judkins said.
DSU led the entire game but surrendered a run late in the first half and only went into the break with a four-point lead. Judkins entered the locker room visibly upset with the way the first period ended, and whatever he said to his team during half time seemed to work.
The Storm turned it around in the second half as they shot an efficient 62.2 percent from the field and outscored the Cavaliers 54-23 in the final period.
Senior guard Mason Sawyer led the way with 19 points on 7-12 shooting. Hill added 15 points, three steals and a career-high nine assists. Senior guard Robbie Nielson and sophomore forward Zac Hunter had 15 and 13 assists respectively. Junior forward Josh Fuller finished one point shy of a double-double with nine points and 14 rebounds in the 91-56 win.
“It was an awesome way to start the season,” Judkins said. “We rebounded well, defended well, and I liked how we moved the ball. Seattle Pacific is a talented team though. We’ll have our hands full against them tomorrow.”
Judkins was absolutely right about that. SPU used hot perimeter shooting to push past the Storm. Falcon senior guard Brendan Carroll erupted for a career-high 30 points including nine makes from downtown.
The Falcons were plagued by foul trouble and injuries as two of their starters sat out the majority of the game and their leading scorer, senior forward Mitch Penner, left the game in the first half due to a knee ailment.
Even with the obstacles, SPU was able to fend off the furious comeback as the Storm trimmed a 22-point lead down to four before Carroll quieted the crowd with a corner three-ball.
The comeback attempt ultimately came up short as SPU came out on top 80-74. Hill notched another career-high with 20 points in the loss. Senior forward Mark Ogden Jr. added 15 points and eight rebounds while Sawyer and Fuller also finished in double figures with 11 and 10 respectively.
“It was a tough way to lose,” assistant coach Kasey Winters said. “We fought hard though, and I saw a lot of things tonight that we can build on as the season continues. There’s nothing to hang our heads about.”
The 1-1 Storm will head to the Sonoma State/Ron Logsdon Basketball Classic in Rohnert Park, California, Nov. 20 for their first road action of the young season.