Dixie State was plagued by another slow start and poor free throw shooting as the Trailblazers dropped a 64-61 home decision to Chadron State on Saturday night inside the Burns Arena.
Chadron State outscored the Blazers (5-8, 3-6 RMAC), 13-2, to open the game as DSU missed six of its first seven shots during the first seven-plus minutes of the game, and it extended that lead to as many as 17 points at 26-9 on a Charles Gavin lay-in with 7:37 remaining in the period.
DSU’s offense finally got going after the under-eight media timeout as the Trailblazers rattled off 11-straight points, bolstered by consecutive 3-pointers from Zach Frampton and Wade Miller. Julien Ducree also added five points in the rally, including a key bucket in the paint on a Miller feed, which pulled Dixie State to within six at 26-20.
The Eagles (7-8, 5-4 RMAC) quickly pushed the lead back to double digits with four-straight points, but Dixie State managed to again make it a two-possession game at 31-25 after two Frampton free throws with less than one second remaining in the frame.
Despite several opportunities to tie or take the lead in the second half, the Trailblazers could not wrestle the lead away from Chadron. Trailing 62-59 with 21 seconds to play, Andre Wilson was fouled on a 3-point attempt, which put him on the line with a chance to tie the game with three free throws.
The junior connected on two of the three charity tosses to make it a 62-61 game, but DSU needed to foul and hope for at least one Eagle miss for a chance to win it on its final possession. After Chadron guard Colby Jackson hit two free throws to push the lead back to three, the Trailblazers had two good looks to tie the game in the waning moments.
Dub Price fired a three-ball from the right wing, but the ball caromed off to Miller, who found Wilson for one more desperation try. However, his shot did not find its mark at the final buzzer, and the Eagles escaped with the win.
Dixie State struggled to find its shot the entire night as the Trailblazers finished 17-of-45 (.378) for the game, though, they posted a slightly higher percentage (.389, 7-of-18) from the perimeter.
“I’ve got to figure something out with our starts; that’s three games in a row that we’ve been down 10-plus points to start a game,” DSU head coach Jon Judkins said. “That’s something that [we] as coaches have been talking about; maybe [DSU starters] are getting too comfortable. I love how we fight back, but you can’t give a team like Chadron State a big lead and spend all your energy to get back [into the game], and then you’re out of gas. That’s what happened to us in the end tonight.”
Despite the shooting woes on the night, the Blazers were ultimately done in both at the foul line and in the rebounding department as DSU hit on just 20 of its 34 attempts (.588) and was outrebounded by a 46-27 count, which included a 16-6 spread on the offensive glass.Comment on this story
“It’s a simple game if you do the little things — rebounding and foul shots,” Judkins added. “We got outrebounded by 19 tonight. And we gave up 16 offensive rebounds, and we missed 16 free throws. Those are the things you can control; you can control your foul shot because no one is guarding you. You can control rebounding; you’ve got to put a body on somebody. Those things are things we can do, and we need to do a better job of that.”
Wilson led all scorers with a career-high 16 points, while Ducree poured in 12 points off the bench. Diontae Champion paced Chadron State with 13 points, while Jackson finished with 11.
Dixie State heads back on the road for a four-game RMAC road swing, beginning with a date at Colorado Christian on Friday, Jan. 18, at 7:30 p.m., in Lakewood. DSU will then head back to Denver to square off against Regis on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 5 p.m.