Matt Conway scored 17 of his game-high 19 points in the second half, while the Trailblazers broke three NCAA-era defensive records, as Dixie State stifled MSU Denver, 69-38, on Friday night inside the Burns Arena. The win snapped the Blazers’ four-game losing streak as DSU improved to 5-7 overall, 3-5 in RMAC play.
Both teams stumbled out of the gate to begin the game, though it was Dixie State that could not find its shooting stroke in the early going as MSUD (6-6, 4-4 RMAC) led 9-0 before Jack Pagenkopf got DSU on the board with a jumper nearly five minutes in.
The Roadrunners increased their lead to 12-2 on a Druce Asah 3-pointer at the 14:08 mark, but they managed to score just six more points the rest of the period. Meanwhile, the Trailblazers did not fare much better, though DSU did manage to trim the deficit down to 18-16 following a pair of Julien Ducree free throws with 4:47 on the clock
The two sides then combined to go scoreless the rest of the stanza until a Pagenkopf frozen-rope 3-pointer beat the final horn to give Dixie State a 19-18 lead at the intermission.
That Pagenkopf trey seemed to light the fuse for the Trailblazer offense as Dixie State hit on seven of its first nine shots to open the second half en route to a 38-25 lead with 12:41 to play. DSU broke the game open with a 17-1 run that was sparked by a Conway 3-pointer, while Andre Wilson poured in five-straight points and Pagenkopf drilled his second trifecta of the game and added another jumper for good measure.
The Trailblazers did not see their lead dip below 10 points the rest of the way, thanks to a torrid 16-of-20 (.800) shooting clip, including hitting on 6-of-7 (.857) from beyond the arc, to coast to their third conference win.
While the offense was on fire, the Trailblazers enjoyed arguably their finest overall defensive performance in program history. DSU held MSU Denver to opponent single-game record lows of 11 made field goals and a 21.2 percent field goal percentage (11-of-52), which included a 6-of-28 (.214) clip in the first half and a 5-of-24 (.208) effort in the second half.
Prior to tonight, the previous record low for opponent made field goals was 15 set four different times, with the last occasion coming during the 2016-17 season (at Academy of Art), while the Roadrunners’ shooting percentage eclipsed the previous DSU opponent record low of 23.8 percent posted by Pacifica College (15-of-63) in a 110-41 Dixie State win during the 2010-11 season.
In addition, the 38 points surrendered Friday night also broke Dixie State’s NCAA-era opponent single-game low of 40 points set in an 84-40 home win over Dominican University on February 11, 2010.
“I thought we defended pretty good in the first half, but we just couldn’t score,” DSU head coach Jon Judkins said. “It seemed like we missed some really good shots, and our guys were a little hesitant on whether they should shoot it or not and when you do that you’re not going to shoot well.
“We did a lot better job [of shooting the ball] in the second half and we continued to defend well, but [MSU Denver] did not shoot the ball very well either. It was a good team effort tonight.”
Conway connected on 4-of-6 from the floor (3-of-3 3pt) and was a perfect 6-of-6 from the line in the second half, and he pulled down 10 of his career-high 13 rebounds after halftime on his way to his first DSU double-double. Wilson continued his solid play of late as he finished with a career-best 12 points in his first start of the year, and Pagenkopf tallied 10 points in his return to action after missing the last two regular season games due to injury.Comment on this story
“It was good to get Jack [Pagenkopf] back. I thought he brought us a little spark, and I thought Matt [Conway] had one of his better games tonight,” Judkins noted. “When Matt has a good game it’s when he gets to the foul line [8-of-9 FT]. He’s good when he has that inside-outside game going, and he had that going tonight. He was aggressive and got fouled and got to the line.”
Dixie State's strong second half offset a 6-of-27 (.222) opening frame to finish 22-of-47 (.468) from the floor, which included a 7-of-18 (.389) effort from the perimeter. DSU also shot 62.1 percent (18-of-29) at the line and outrebounded MSUD, 45-35.
The Trailblazers now turn around and host Chadron State on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.