No postseason magic for DSU as Blazers fall to UC-San Diego in first round of NCAA Tournament

File photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – The Dixie State Trailblazers’ season ended on Friday night with a crushing defeat at the hands of UC-San Diego, 94-68.

Much like the first game of the season when these two teams met, Dixie State dug themselves into an early 19-point deficit. But unlike the previous game, when the Blazers fought back to within three before succumbing in the final minute, the Tritons kept their foot on the gas and continued to pummel DSU with accurate long-range shooting.

The Blazers got their first and only lead of the first half on a 15-foot jumper by Marcus Bradley 10 seconds into the game. Bradley had Dixie State’s first three baskets, but right away the Tritons were matching the Blazers two-point baskets with 3-pointers and quickly climbed to a 12-6 lead. Kyler Nielson hit a trey from straight on with 15:13 on the clock to cut the lead to 12-9.

That lead would grow quickly, however, as it seemed that UCSD would get their sharpshooter Aleks Lipovic open several times with time waning down on the shot clock. When Lipovics went out with two fouls, several other Tritons found their marks from distance.

The Tritons led by as many as 17 in the first half when UCSD reserve post Michael Shoemaker had an offensive rebound fall into his lap and he got the easy put back for a 44-27 lead with 1:26 remaining. Dixie State cut that to 14 with three free throws to end the half.

Five different Tritons hit from distance and Lipovics connected on 5 of 8 to lead UCSD with 15 first-half points.

The Tritons only shot 47 percent, but got 10 more shots than Dixie State by outrebounding them 20-13 and getting six at the offensive end. The Tritons hit nine 3-pointers in the first half to only one for DSU.

In the first half, DSU hit 50 percent from the floor. Bradley led the way on 4 for 5 shooting and eight early points. Nielson had seven.

In the second half, the Blazers kept pace with UCSD. With 6:49 to play, the score was still within reach when Austin Montgomery’s jumper cut the lead to 73-58. But the Blazers had to do more than keep pace. They had to make up the double-digit deficit.

Just over a minute later, the score was going in the opposite direction as the Triton’s lead climbed above 20 points. And it continued to climb upward. UCSD’s largest lead came on their final basket, a 3-pointer by sub Koree Cox, to put the score at 94-65. Nielson reciprocated at the other end to get to the final tally.

The Tritons outshot DSU for the game 52-50 percent from the floor, but 45-33 percent from beyond the arc. They outrebounded the Trailblazers 37-23 and outscored them 16-5 on second-chance points.

Dixie State finishes the year 19-9. UCSD will play Cal Baptist in the next round. The Lancers joined Hawaii Pacific as the two PacWest teams to advance to the West Region semifinals.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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