No. 18/20 Dixie State saw its 2018 NCAA Tournament run, and its school-record 17-game winning streak, come to an abrupt end as the Trailblazers came out on the short end of a hard-fought 69-65 decision to Azusa Pacific on Friday afternoon at Western Oregon’s NPE Gymnasium.
DSU, which swept both the Pacific West Conference regular season and tournament championships, finished with a school record 23 victories as the Trailblazers closed the 2017-18 season with a 23-7 overall record.
The No. 2-seeded Trailblazers led 19-12 midway through the first half thanks to the hot shooting of Trevor Hill, who hit three of his first four shots while accounting for nine of DSU’s first 19 points.
However, DSU could not contain the APU duo of Petar Kutlesic and Darien McClain, who combined to score 25 of the No. 7-seeded Cougars’ 29 first-half points. While Kutlesic did most of his scoring in the early going, it was McClain who brought Azusa Pacific back as he hit three 3-pointers as APU outscored DSU, 17-9, to wrestle the lead away at 29-28 with 3:27 to go in the period.
Dixie State came with buckets from Hill and Isaiah Clark as the Trailblazers held APU scoreless in the final three-plus minutes of the stanza and took a 32-29 advantage into the halftime break.
DSU continued APU’s scoreless drought through the first three minutes of the second half. But the Trailblazers could not take advantage as they were just as cold on the offensive end as both teams struggled before Cougar forward Corey Langerveld broke through with a transition trey to knot the score at 32-32 with 17:00 remaining.
Brandon Simister answered with the first of his three second-half 3-pointers on DSU’s next trip down the court, but Langerveld countered by scoring seven of APU’s next 10 points to give his side its biggest lead of the game at 42-38 with 14:30 to go.
Simister answered the APU spurt with five-straight points that sparked a quick 10-0 Trailblazer run as DSU wrestled the lead back, 48-42, after an Austin Montgomery tip-in at the 10:47 mark. However, DSU could not build on that lead as McClain drilled consecutive 3-pointers and Langerveld finished a fast break with a lay-in to put APU back on top at 50-48 with 8:48 to go.
The two teams then battled back and forth through five ties and three lead changes before APU forward Selom Mawugbe put the Cougars up 64-62 with a bucket in the paint with 2:47 to go. Then, after the Trailblazers missed on their next possession, the DSU defense forced APU into a long-range try as the shot clock was expiring, but the ball grazed the rim and into the waiting arms of Kutlesic who tipped home the miss as the shot clock reset to extend the Cougar lead to four points.
Simister drew the Trailblazers to within 66-65 with a 3-pointer with 49 seconds to go. The senior hoisted up a deep three that caromed off the rim to Dub Price, who then kicked it back out to …read more
Source:: Deseret News – Sports News