Sports

UPSET AVERTED: #7 Dixie State Survives in OT Over UHH

January 3, 2014, 9:50 AM HST
* Updated January 3, 9:53 AM
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The University of Hawai`i at Hilo men’s basketball team was 28 seconds away putting together its biggest win in the school’s recent history.

Dixie State’s DeQuan Thompson spoiled those thoughts with a game tying three pointer to tie the game at 68 and send it into overtime. The Red Storm scored the next five points in overtime and held on to defeat the Vulcans 79-74 to remain perfect at 10-0.

“Those kids are hurting in that locker room right now. They gave an effort and they really battled,” said UH-Hilo head coach GE Coleman of his Vulcans squad.

Dixie State used its size and depth to open up a 10 point lead in the game’s first 11 minutes. The Vulcans, playing without ineligible guard Jamario Clayton, were unfazed, rallying back into the game with a 14-1 scoring run to take a 29-26 lead on the Red Storm with 6:08 remaining in the opening half.

From that point, UH-Hilo (3-8 overall, 0-5 PacWest) never trailed until Dalton Groskreutz buried a jump shot to put Dixie State ahead 53-52 with 10:39 remaining. The lead changed hands three more times before Joey Rodriguez drained a 25 foot three pointer to give the Vulcans a 63-58 lead with 4:11 remaining.

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Rodriguez, a 6’0″ transfer from the College of Marin, led the Vulcans with 16 points and four assists off of the bench.

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The Vulcans couldn’t close the door on Dixie State, turning the ball over twice and hitting just one field goal through the rest of regulation, allowing Thompson’s game tying trey to give the undefeated Red Storm an extra breath of life. The Red Storm junior finished with 23 points and three treys, adding to his team high total of 18 for the season.

Dixie State opened the extra five-minute period with a dunk from 6-foot-10 center Zach Robbins, who finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Guard Kimball Payne added a free throw and Groskreutz added a jump shot to to open up a 73-68 lead. The Vulcans were only able to cut the deficit down to three points before running out of time.

“What I told them in the locker room was that there’s a reason that they are number seven in the country. There’s a reason they are undefeated. You’ve got to close teams like that out,” Coleman said in his postgame radio interview. “It’s a box out here, it’s a box out there, it’s a rotation defensively to give up a three to tie it, it’s making free throws, little things like that.”

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Dixie State’s size was key in winning the battle of the board, out-rebounding the Vulcans 51-35 for the evening. In the second half and overtime, the Red Storm dominated the glass with a 35-19 rebounding advantage. That helped to make up for a 20-36 (.556) free throw shooting effort.

Darnell Williams and Brandon Thomas each scored 15 points for UH-Hilo. Derek Owens contributed 11 points. Like Dixie State, the Vulcans struggled at the charity stripe, shooting 17-for-29 (.586) for the game.

Coleman’s optimism showed despite the heartbreaking defeat. “We’ve proven that if we play the right way, we can play with anybody in this league.”

UH-Hilo returns to the court Saturday for a conference matchup against Dominican University. The Penguins hold a 10-3 overall record. Tip is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. following the women’s game.

Dixie State 36 32 11 – 79

UH-Hilo 39 29 6 – 74

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