Dixie State won its 16th-straight game and advanced to its second Pacific West Conference Tournament title game with a 68-59 semifinal victory over Concordia-Irvine on Friday night inside the CBU Events Center. The Trailblazers (22-6) will move on to play No. 2-seed California Baptist for the PacWest tournament championship Saturday at 4:30 p.m. CBU (25-4) punched its ticket to the final game with a 67-57 triumph over Azusa Pacific in the first semifinal game.
The first half featured five ties and five lead changes, though the Eagles, and in particular guard Tyler Lacour-Brown, had it working in the early going. Lacour-Brown scored 12 of CUI’s first 20 points, including seven straight to help give the Eagles a 20-16 advantage just before the under-eight media timeout.
Dixie State answered back with seven-straight points of its own to vault to a 23-20 lead. Dub Price nailed a pair of free throws in the rally, while Brandon Simister converted a three-point play, and Isaiah Clark finished in the paint with 7:01 to go in the stanza to spot his side a three-point lead.
Concordia-Irvine countered with an 11-4 spurt to reclaim the lead at 31-27, but DSU managed to score the final six points of the half, including a big Quincy Mathews layup and free throw with 29.6 seconds to play, which gave DSU a 33-31 halftime edge.
DSU led virtually the entire second half but could not mount a sustained run to put the Eagles away. The Trailblazers looked as if they were starting to take control after back-to-back lay-ins from Clark and Kyler Nielson pushed the DSU lead to 46-40 with 15:28 to play.
CUI clawed back to knot the score at 46-46, but Dixie State countered with a 12-5 spurt to take its biggest lead of the game at 58-51 with 6:54 left. Quincy Mathews stopped the Eagle run with a 3-pointer from the right corner, while Clark and Hunter scored on consecutive possessions later in the rally to push it to a seven-point cushion.
After the Eagles pulled to within 58-55, the Trailblazers scored six of the game’s next seven points, highlighted by a Trevor Hill steal and Austin Montgomery transition dunk, to extend to a 64-56 lead with 2:32 to go. Dixie State never saw that lead dip below five points the rest of the way as the Trailblazers did just enough to close out the win.
Three Trailblazers scored in double figures as Clark, Hill and Mathews each finished with 10 points as part of a balanced scoring attack. Montgomery and Hunter added nine points, while Price chipped in eight points. Simister, who battled foul trouble all game and wound up fouling out with 3:57 to go, was held to just three points.
Dixie State shot 49.0 percent from the floor (24-of-49) but was just 2-of-10 (.200) from the perimeter. Meanwhile, the DSU defense held CUI to 39.6 shooting (19-of-48), and the Trailblazers outrebounded the Eagles by a 40-25 count, including 15-6 on the offensive glass. Mathews pulled down a game-high nine boards, while Clark collected seven of his eight caroms on the offensive end. DSU’s defense and rebounding helped the Trailblazers survive 21 turnovers and 13 missed free throws (18-of-31).
CUI’s Brian Chambers led all scorers with 21 points, while Lacour-Brown finished with 17 points but was held to just two points after halftime.
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.dixiestateathletics.com and follow Dixie State on Twitter at @DixieAthletics.