As the regular season winds down, the Dixie State University men’s basketball team continues to rise atop the Pacific West Conference. DSU was in action this week with two impressive road wins against Holy Names University Saturday and Dominican University Monday.
Head coach Jon Judkins picked up his 200th career win at DSU as the Storm extended their season-long winning streak to seven games and clinched a spot in the conference tournament with the 88-68 win over the Hawks and 75-65 win over the Penguins.
“We’re really clicking right now, and I think we’re doing it at just the right time,” Judkins said. “If you would’ve told me two months ago that we have a chance to win the conference, I would’ve called you crazy.”
The Storm now have an opportunity to do just that as they sit just a half game behind current No. 1 seed Azusa Pacific University.
In the first contest of the three-game road trip, the Storm faced HNU, who they had beaten just five days earlier.
Five DSU players scored in double figures led by senior forward Mark Ogden Jr., who notched yet another double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. The underclassmen were efficient on the night as well as sophomore guards Trevor Hill and Brandon Simister scored 10 points apiece and sophomore forward Zac Hunter poured in 12. Freshman forward Quincy Mathews scored a career-high 10 points in his extended minutes in the absence of senior guard Robbie Nielson.
In the runaway win, the Storm came up just two points shy of becoming the only DSU team to ever hit the 90-point plateau in five consecutive games.
The second game was not quite as easy as the first for DSU as it ran into the Dominican Penguins, who are fighting for their playoff lives at 9-10 in conference play.
Both teams defended well in the first half, holding the opposition to under 40 percent from the field and resulting in a low scoring 30-27 lead for DSU at the half.
DSU, though, came out of the locker room looking like a whole new team. The Storm connected on four of their first five shots from the floor and extended the lead to as many as 11 points en route to the 10-point win.
“We just have to keep our foot on the pedal,” Judkins said. “We are right where we want to be right now, and we can’t afford to let up.”
Senior guard Mason Sawyer knocked down two shots from distance to finish with nine points, and Nielson returned to action, scoring 8 points in 16 minutes.
The trio of Ogden Jr., Hill and Simister led the way for the Storm as they each scored 15 points in the game. Junior forward Josh Fuller finished with a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Ogden Jr. tallied a double-double of his own, his fifth straight, by adding 11 boards. Three of his rebounds came on the offensive end, which resulted in him breaking the DSU single-season offensive rebound record with 83.
“I’ve been really motivated as of late because I know these are my last few games,” Ogden Jr. said. “It was an ugly win, but we got it done. Two down, one more to go.”
Junior forward Josh Fuller and Ogden Jr. both notched a double-double in the same game for the second time this season, something that Fuller, an accounting major from Rexburg, Idaho, attributes to their chemistry.
“It’s great to have someone like Mark in the front court with me,” Fuller said. “[Dominican] double-teamed on the catch and we were able to find each other for some big buckets. It’s hard to stop the two of us.”
DSU will finish off the road swing against Fresno Pacific University Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. before returning to Burns Arena for a possible PacWest championship showdown with Concordia University Saturday.