Season highs propel DSU men to victories in Hawaii

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An 18-point victory over the University of Hawaii-Hilo Vulcans Thursday launched the Dixie State University men’s basketball team to a thrilling overtime win over Chaminade University Saturday.

In its first of a three-game road trip in Hawaii, DSU was matched against UHH. A balanced scoring attack led the Storm to a 97-79 victory over the Vulcans.

The Storm shot well throughout the game, which helped them earn the early lead out of the gate. They used a 19-8 run to balloon their lead to 30-18 with just over six minutes to play in the first half.

Coming out of halftime with a 42-31 lead, the Storm really turned on the jets. They shot 61 percent from the field in the second half while receiving a 24-point contribution from the bench players throughout the game. DSU finished shooting a total of 54 percent from the field to earn the 97-79 win.

“We made shots,” head coach Jon Judkins said. “Our guys did a good job of finding holes in the defense, and were able to knock down open looks.” 

The field goal percentage was DSU’s highest shooting total of the year, as was its 97 total points, 22 points higher than its season average.

“We did a good job of getting inside their zone,” Judkins said. “We’ve really been focusing a lot on knocking down shots, and it is paying off.” 

Four DSU scorers in the game finished in double figures, led by junior forward Josh Fuller who notched his second 20-point performance of the year, finishing with 22. Senior forward Mark Odgen Jr. finished with 21 points, while sophomore guard Trevor Hill added 14. Sophomore forward Zac Hunter tallied 12 points in the win.

“We came together as a team,” said Fuller, an accounting major from Pocatello, Idaho.  “The team is really focusing on having the mindset that if one of us scores, we all score, and that’s helped us play well together.” 

Following the win, DSU again set a season high in points as it downed the CU Silverswords 103-100 in overtime.  This is DSU’s second victory over CU this season.

The scoring for the Storm was again balanced as they saw five of the seven scorers end with 13 points or more.  DSU jumped out to a 16-6 lead early in the first half but then allowed the Silverswords to make a 19-6 run over the next six minutes to take a 25-22 lead.

DSU would make a run of its own and take a 40-36 lead into halftime behind making 57 percent of its 3-point shots and being perfect from the charity strip connecting on each of its eight attempts.

The second half was a back and forth battle until the Silverswords took their largest lead of the game, 82-71, with under six minutes to play in regulation.  DSU fought back over the next 90 seconds and cut the lead to four before facing a six-point deficit with 49 seconds left on the second half clock.

“I told my team to keep playing defense down the stretch,”  Judkins said.  “We were able to get some easy shots and that got the momentum going for our defense.  That is why we were able to win the game was because of our defensive effort.”

Hill made a pair of free throws and also made an old fashioned 3-point play on a contested layup, which kept the Storm within two, 88-86, with 18 seconds left to play.  DSU intentionally fouled on the ensuing inbound play, which sent CU guard Rohndell Goodwin to the line who made one of two foul shots to give the Silverswords a three-point lead.

With the final seconds ticking down, Senior guard Mayson Sawyer hoisted a potential game tying 3-pointer with six seconds left. The shot came off the rim but was rebounded by Hill. Hill quickly kicked the ball out to sophomore guard Brandon Simister, whose off balance 3-point shot torched the bottom of the net to send the game into overtime.

“When [Hill] kicked it out to me, it must have gotten tipped or something because I had to pick it up off the ground,”  said Simister, a biology Major from St. George, of his last second shot.  “I had to kind of jump off one foot, and when I let it go, I thought I had left it short, but it rattled in.  When that shot went in, we knew we were going to win.  It was such a fun game.”

DSU led all but 17 seconds of the overtime frame and secured the victory 103-100.  It made a season high 10 3-pointers on 18 such shots for a season high 55 percent.  The Storm also shot 46 percent from the field and 87 percent from the charity strip.

The Storm was led by Simister, who had a career-high 24 points off the bench.  Hill finished with 21 points and a team-high eight rebounds.  Fuller and Ogden Jr. each finished with 16 points while Sawyer added 13 points and four assists.

“Coming off the bench, I try to keep the energy up for my team,” Simister said.  “We played so hard as a team to win.  We never gave up.”

DSU is now 9-7 overall and 6-4 in the Pacific West Conference.  It took on BYU-Hawaii  Tuesday (scores not available by press time) and will return home to take on Hawaii Pacific University Saturday.