Trevor Hill’s lay-in with 10.7 seconds to play capped a furious Trailblazer second-half rally as Dixie State claimed a 70-69 come-from-behind victory over PacWest newcomer Biola on Wednesday night inside the Burns Arena.
DSU (7-6, 4-2 PacWest) trailed 38-30 at intermission and saw that deficit swell to 13 points at 43-30 after Biola guard Blake Shannon Jr. drilled a 3-pointer a minute-plus into the second frame.
Dixie State ended the drought on its next trip down the court with a Zac Hunter layup. That basket seemed to serve as a wake-up call for the Trailblazers as they rattled off a 15-0 run in a nearly six-minute span to erase the deficit and take a 45-43 lead following a Wade Miller trey with 12:49 to play.
Meanwhile, DSU stifled the Eagles during that stretch as the Trailblazers forced five turnovers and six missed Biola shots. However, the Eagles (5-8, 0-6 PacWest) managed to wrestle the lead back with four-straight points and maintained the advantage for the next eight-plus minutes, eventually extending to a nine-point cushion, 64-55, with 4:33 remaining after a Shannon Jr. basket.
The Trailblazers mounted another charge, this time with eight-straight points to pull to within 64-63. Then after an Eagle basket, Hunter converted a conventional three-point play to draw Dixie State even at 66-66 with 1:29 to go.
Down 69-68 after Michael Bagatourian split a pair of Biola free throws with 13 seconds left, Hill picked up the inbounds pass at midcourt and drove strong through the Eagle defense and scored the go-ahead bucket. Shannon pulled up for a 3-point attempt on the Eagles final possession, but his shot caromed off the rim to teammate Levi Auble, whose baseline 12-foot jumper trickled off the rim to Hunter at the horn as the Trailblazers escaped with the win.
“We were very fortunate to win,” DSU head coach Jon Judkins said. “[Biola] outplayed us tonight, but the one thing I was happy with is that our guys didn’t quit. We played a lot better in the second half, our defense was more intense and we pressed [Biola] early, and that allowed us to pick up the tempo of the game. It wasn’t the way I drew it up, but a win is a win and we’ll take it.”
Hill scored 15 of his game-high 18 points in the second half and finished with a season-high-tying seven assists, five of which came after halftime. Meanwhile, Hunter poured in a season-high 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with six rebounds, and Brandon Simister chipped in 11 points.
DSU survived a cold shooting night as the Trailblazers finished 41.7 percent (25-of-60) from the floor, which included a 3-of-12 clip (.250) from the perimeter, and a 65.4 percent effort (17-of-26) at the foul line. However, Dixie State’s defense collected a season-high 11 steals off 17 Biola turnovers to help offset the offensive struggles.
Shannon and Alex Talma paced four Eagles in double figures with 15 points apiece, while Auble added 12 points and Trevor Treinen finished with 11 points. Biola shot 46.6 percent (27-of-58) from the field with seven 3-pointers and outrebounded DSU, 36-25.
Dixie State continues its four-game PacWest homestand against Dominican this Friday, Jan. 5, at 7:30 p.m.
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.