SAN FRANCISCO — Sitting atop the Pacific West Conference standings comes with the proverbial target — you must expect every team’s best every day. Saturday afternoon at the historic Kezar Pavilion, Academy of Art had Dixie State on the brink of its first loss in nine games.
Down six with three minutes left, the Red Storm shifted into another gear and posted an 11-3 run to defeat the Urban Knights, 82-80, in the opening game of a four-game road trip in the Bay Area.
Zach Robbins pumped in a game-high 22 points, his fourth 20-point plus effort of the season, and added six rebounds for Dixie State (16-4, 11-1 PWC). On the interior, the Storm had their biggest advantage — besting ART U (7-12, 5-7 PWC) 46-30.
Derek Owen had 15 of his 17 points in the second half, while pairing with Robbins to get the Urban Knight bigs into foul trouble. Three post players succumbed to the five-foul limit, forcing the host school to shoot primarily from the outside with success.
Ameer Shamsud-din led four ART U players in double figures with 20 points — 18 coming after the break.
The Urban Knights took momentum over the final two minutes of the opening half with an 8-0 run to take a 39-31 lead. With the first five points of the second half, ART U led by as many as 14.
DSC chipped away over the next eight minutes and knotted the game for the 10th time at 54-54. Five more lead changes/ties capped with the Knights taking their final advantage at six points, 77-71 at the 3:03 mark.
Kimball Payne drove to the bucket with 34 seconds, made a lay-in and drew a foul to give the Storm a lead they would not relinquish. Robbins blocked an effort on the defensive end leading to a foul. Dalton Groskreutz nailed a pair of free throws, which proved to be the final margin of victory.
Payne finished with 13 points and four rebounds. DeQuan Thompson added 10 points off the bench. McKay Massey was held scoreless in a game for the first time since Nov. 12, 2011, against Minot State.
Dixie State continues on the road Monday night with a PacWest contest against the Dominican Penguins. Tip time from Conlan Center is set for 7:30 p.m. Pacific (8:30 p.m. Mountain).
John Potter is the "Voice of the Red Storm" and an athletic media relation assistant at Dixie State College. Contact him at Potter@dixie.edu.