Behind a career-high 35 points from Trevor Hill, Dixie State rallied from a 10-point, second-half deficit to claim a 99-89 victory over Eastern New Mexico in the opening game of the 2017 Western Oregon/Doubletree by Hilton DII Shootout on Friday in the WOU PE Gymnasium.
DSU (2-2) trailed 41-35 at the half and quickly fell behind by a 48-38 count after a Maurice Coleman lay-in just more than a minute into the second stanza. The Trailblazers responded with a 9-2 run to cut the deficit to three at 50-47 and eventually pulled even at 65-65 thanks to a Brandon Simister 3-pointer with 9:12 remaining.
The Greyhounds (2-1) bounced right back with an 8-2 spurt to extend to a 73-67 advantage, but again DSU rallied, outscoring ENMU, 10-2, in a four-plus minute span and took its first lead of the frame on a Kyler Nielson trey with 3:10 to go in regulation.
Dixie State maintained that lead until a Zach Parker 3-pointer put ENMU back on top at 82-80 with 1:15 left. Then, with less than 40 seconds to play, Dub Price cleared an offensive rebound to Hill, who found Austin Montgomery for a thunderous dunk to tie the game at 82-82. The Trailblazer defense stepped up and forced a Greyhound turnover in the waning seconds of regulation to force overtime.
It was all Trailblazers in the extra session as DSU bolted out to a quick 87-82 lead thanks to a Montgomery jumper and a Simister 3-pointer on consecutive possessions. Dixie State never looked back from that moment on as it hit all four of its shots and 8-of-10 at the line to outscore ENMU, 17-7, in the stanza to clinch the win.
“That was a pretty big win against a very good team,” DSU head coach Jon Judkins said. “The first half [ENMU] were doing what they wanted to do. They were hurting us on ball screens, but we did a good job adjusting defensively at halftime. We took the game into our hands instead of playing their style [in the second half]. We played our style and it changed the whole game.”
Hill scored 23 of his 35 points after halftime as the senior hit 11-of-19 from the floor and 13-of-17 at the foul line. Hill also collected six rebounds, five assists and five steals in 41 minutes played.
Not to be outdone, Montgomery also had himself a career night as he posted his first career double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds — both career highs. Montgomery was a perfect 8-of-8 from the field and 2-of-2 at the line to go along with one assist and a career-high-tying two blocked shots. Meanwhile, Simister poured in a season-high 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting with four treys, and Nielson added 12 points.
Dixie State shot a season-high 51.5 percent (35-of-68) from the field, which included 6-of-13 (.462) from the perimeter, and shot a season-best 74.2 percent (23-of-31) from the foul line. DSU also outrebounded ENMU, 43-32, including a 14-7 clip on the offensive glass.
Parker led five Greyhounds in double figures with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting with five 3-pointers. ENMU hit 47.6 percent (30-of-63) of its shots and went 8-of-21 (.381) from beyond the arc.
The Trailblazers face the home-standing Wolves in the Shootout’s final game on Saturday at 3 p.m. PT.
Steve Johnson is the Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations and Collegiate Licensing at Dixie State University. For more DSU Athletics news, please visit www.dixieathletics.com and follow Dixie State on Twitter at @DixieAthletics.