Milestones have been the story in recent weeks when it comes to the Dixie State men’s basketball program. Saturday’s contest in Grand Forks was no different. In a game that had no highlight-reel performances, the Trailblazers used their depth and timely runs to come out on top. The 78-69 win over the Fighting Hawks stretched Dixie State’s win streak to six games. The win also gave head coach Jon Judkins his 300th win with the program.
Going into the under 12 media timeout in the first half, it looked like the Dixie State win streak might be over. Trailing 19-9, the confident shooting and high-energy defense that had been prevalent in the previous five games was practically non-existent. Dixie State used a 14-4 run out of the timeout to the game at 23. The final minutes of the half were nothing to write home about. Poor shooting, sloppy offense and a peculiar amount of offensive fouls. It was ugly. However, the Trailblazers headed to the locker room with a 34-33 advantage.
Whatever Judkins told his team in the halftime discussion worked. In the opening eight minutes, the Trailblazers went on a 19-9 run, capped off by a Trevon Allfrey and-1. There was no slowing down following the under 12 media timeout. Dixie State went on another huge run to take a 16-point lead with six minutes left. The Fighting Hawks wouldn’t go quietly, though. North Dakota closed the gap to just five on a pair of Paul Bruns free throws with three minutes remaining. However, Dixie State held off the attack en route to their first road victory of the year.
Hunter Schofield led Dixie State scorers in his 32 minutes of action with 18 points on 7-16 shooting. Schofield also went 3-3 from the free throw line, making him the only Trailblazer over 50 percent from the charity stripe. True Freshman guard Noa Gonsalves was by far the most impactful player in Saturday’s action. His career-high 12 points seemed to spark a DSU run or douse a North Dakota one. Gonsalves also contributed 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 1 steal in 24 minutes.
Additionally, Cam Gooden had 10 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists. Andre Mulibea finished with 8 points, nailing two 3-pointers, and tallied 3 assists.
Dixie State saw less production from behind the arc than they have in recent games, making only 7 of their 20 3-pointers. The Trailblazers did however shoot 48% from the floor altogether and only turned the ball over eight times. On the defensive end, the Trailblazers perimeter defense continued to lead the way, holding North Dakota to just 28 percent from deep.
- The Trailblazers’ skill off the bench is going to cause problems for every opponent. In a recent interview with WAC Hoops Digest, Jon Judkins spoke about his team’s depth and comfortability in their roles. He simply said, “We’re deeper than we’ve been before.” In Saturday’s contest, that depth showed with Gonsalves and Mulibea logging significant minutes.
- Judkins’ boys know how to defend. Earlier this week he spoke about how his team has made a commitment to being active and aggressive on the defensive end. The last six games have shown that commitment.
- Dixie State can win without breaking 3-point records.
- Road games are no longer the enemy. The Trailblazers had yet to win a ball game away from the Burns Arena prior to Saturday. When asked about the two final road games, Judkins said, “we’ve won at home but now we have to learn how to win on the road.”
Looking Ahead to Rivalry Week
On Wednesday night, Dixie State heads to Cedar City for a rematch with in-state and future WAC rival Southern Utah. On November 12, the Trailblazers hosted the Thunderbirds in front of a record crowd at Burns Arena and claimed an 83-76 victory. With more games under each team’s belt and rotations now solidified the two teams are set for an incredible showdown.
Dixie State follows up its final non-conference game by hosting Tarleton on Dec. 30 in the WAC opener for both teams.