The Dixie State University Red Storm alternated wins and losses over the holiday break with wins coming against Chaminade University and Concordia University in double overtime and both losses coming against Azusa Pacific University.
The Red Storm welcomed Azusa Pacific University Dec. 19. DSU assisted on 15 of its 22 made field goals while shooting 38 percent from the field and 20 percent from the behind the 3-point line. Despite holding a four-point lead with less than four minutes to play, the Red Storm found themselves defeated by a final score of 72-65. Junior forward Josh Fuller had a career night as he put in 25 points for the Storm. Senior guard Mason Sawyer also recorded a double-double, finishing with 10 points and 10 assists.
“It is a tough loss,” head coach Jon Judkins said. “I told my team that this is how we were last year. We went on a winning streak after the [holiday] break.”
The Storm then hosted the Chaminade University Silverswords Jan. 5. DSU took a 16-point lead into halftime behind good defense and free throw shooting.
DSU found its touch from long range as it made four 3-pointers on five possessions in the second half. The Storm had started the game 0-8 from deep, but sophomore guard Brandon Simister connected from beyond the arc on back-to-back possessions as did sophomore guard Trevor Hill.
“I think we did a really good job of creating [open shots] for other people,” Simister, a biology major from St. George, said. “Coach talked about playing with confidence and taking the open shot. That’s something that we tried to implement, and I think we did a great job of that.”
The Silverswords fought back and brought the score to 75-72 with just over five minutes to play, but it was DSU’s defense that prevailed as it locked down the victory by a score of 90-81.
“We want to win on the defensive end rather than rely on hitting shots throughout the game,” Simister said. “We could have gotten a lot more stops [on defense] in the second half, but, luckily, we did shoot the ball really well down the stretch.”
Simister finished the game with 16 points on 3-5 shooting from the field and 8-9 shooting from the free-throw line. DSU received a big effort from senior forward Mark Ogden Jr., who recorded a double-double, finishing with 22 points and 16 rebounds. Ogden Jr. led all scorers in the game.
Following the win, DSU took to the road as it visited APU Jan. 5. with hopes of revenge on its mind. It was a see-saw battle for the first half until the Red Storm took a 32-30 advantage into halftime.
APU was red hot in the second half as it took the lead behind a 17-3 run. The Storm clawed their way back and knotted up the game at 54 with just over five minutes to play, but the Cougars remained poised down the stretch and ended up on top 69-63.
Hill led the way for DSU with a game-high 21 points and five rebounds. Simister chipped in 12 for the Red Storm, while Fuller added 11 points.
The Red Storm wrapped up the road trip with arguably the most thrilling victory of the season so far: a double overtime win over the Concordia University Eagles Saturday
Neither team held a lead larger than seven points throughout the game. DSU held that seven-point lead over the Eagles with just over five minutes to play in regulation, but the Eagles came soaring back and tied the game with a 3-point basket with just over one minute to play.
The Red Storm controlled both of the overtime periods and went on to securing their third win in the Pacific West Conference by a final score of 81-80.
“I believe we all played with aggression and toughness throughout these past few games,” Ogden Jr, a business administration major from Spring Valley California, said. “We had a great week of practice and are following Coach Judkins’ four philosophical traits: play hard, play smart, play physical, play together.”
Ogden Jr. led the way for his team in the double overtime victory over the Eagles with a double-double, 27 points and 15 rebounds. Hill also put in 27 points, grabbed six rebounds, and dished four assists.
DSU stands at 6-6 on the season and 3-3 in the PacWest conference. It will return home to face Notre Dame de Namur University tomorrow and then host Point Loma Nazarene University Monday.