ST. GEORGE — It had been 1,001 days since Zach Robbins last competed in the trenches of a Pacific West Conference game. Time away from the rigors of league play did not show up Saturday night, as the sophomore center posted a double-double helping the Dixie State College men’s basketball team to a 82-64 victory over Hawai‘i Hilo inside the Burns Arena.
Dixie State rebounded from a pair of losses last weekend in Colorado and improved to 4-2 on the year and 1-0 in the PacWest.
Robbins had 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field and pulled down 14 rebounds for his second double-double of the year. Not too bad for the post player who missed two full seasons while serving his church mission.
“We play really well in spurts,” Robbins said. “Tonight, the second half was an entire spurt.”
Dixie State outscored UH Hilo 39-23 over the final 20 minutes. The Vulcans struggled shooting 20 percent from the floor and 18 percent from distance in the second half.
Junior forward Dalton Groskreutz led all scorers with 19 points. Twelve of those points came late as the talented player hit four of the team’s 13 buckets.
Both teams shot over 50 percent in the first half. The Red Storm led by as many early but late turnovers and solid execution of the Hilo offense cut the DSC advantage to just two at the break, 43-41.
Defense sparked the Storm’s 25-7 run over 12 minutes midway through the second half, the critical span aiding in victory.
Head coach Jon Judkins expressed his happiness with the increased focus of his team on the defensive side.
“We challenged them to keep them in front of you, keep them out of the middle and contest shots,” Judkins said. “Our goals included rebounding and running the lanes, we did a better job of that.”
After surrendering 20 points inside the paint to UHH in the first half, DSC succeeded in closing up lanes in the key holding Hilo to just six points over the final 20 minutes.
Eleven players scored for Dixie State. DeQuan Thompson (12) and McKay Massey (10) joined Groskreutz and Robbins in double figures. Two Storm players had career scoring nights — Brandon Simister with nine points and Dillon Bishoff with six.
C.J. Brown netted 15 points for the Vulcans (1-5, 0-1 PWC) in the losing effort.
Dixie State faces a stern test Monday night as the Silverswords of Chaminade enter the Burns Arena for their inaugural PacWest game of the year. Tip with Chaminade is set for 7:30 p.m.
John Potter is the "Voice of the Red Storm" and an athletic media relation assistant at Dixie State College. Contact him at Potter@dixie.edu.