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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

NIC overcomes Dixie

North Idaho College missed from beyond the 3-point arc, from the free-throw line and even on a breakaway layup in the first half.

But the Cardinals kept playing defense. And when the offense joined the party in the second half, NIC rallied past Dixie State College 60-56 in Scenic West Athletic Conference men’s basketball Friday at Christianson Gym.

“We struggled a little bit there in the first half, I don’t need to tell you guys that,” NIC interim head coach Jared Phay told a couple of reporters afterward. “But that’s our philosophy: If you can’t score we can at least stay with you and our defense kept us in the game.”

The victory in front of one of the largest and loudest crowds of the year was NIC’s second straight in the SWAC. The Cardinals improved to 11-10 overall, 3-6 in conference heading into tonight’s 7:30 rematch with Dixie (15-6, 4-5). For the first time in recent memory, the Rebels are sporting a losing conference record midway through the SWAC season.

“We came in at half and everybody was talking do this, do that,” said sophomore forward Harry Disy, who scored 12 second-half points and finished with 10 rebounds. “But talking about it doesn’t make it better. We had to go out there and do it.”

The first-half numbers weren’t pretty. NIC shot just 30 percent from the field and made just 1 of 6 free throws. The Cardinals bogged down against Dixie’s tight man-to-man defense with 14 turnovers and they were outrebounded 24-17.

It was a virtual replay of two weeks ago when Dixie dominated NIC 63-35 in St. George, Utah.

But the second half wasn’t a replay of the first. NIC knocked down three 3-pointers in the first five minutes, the last coming when Shea Bradshaw stepped around a screen and drilled a 22-footer. That bucket gave NIC a 29-26 lead – not to mention 15 points in five second-half minutes, compared to 14 points in the entire first half.

Dixie’s offense, not exactly sterling in building a 22-14 halftime lead, never warmed up. It’s a familiar sight, Rebels coach Jeff Kidder said.

“Nobody shut us down,” Kidder said. “We can’t score. This is the worst offensive team I’ve ever coached. It’s one of the best defensive teams, but we got wide-open jump shots and we just can’t score from anywhere.

Dixie’s stops ended after the first half. NIC rang up 46 points in the second half. NIC’s starting five – Disy, Bradshaw, Keelan Donald, Don Deshazer and Darin Nagle – accounted for 55 of NIC’s 60 points.

Deshazer, who had to go to the bench for a couple minutes after smacking his finger on the rim trying to block a shot, finished with a team-high 14 points. Nagle chipped in 12, Donald had nine and Bradshaw scored all eight of his points in the second half.

Disy had three putbacks in a three-minute span as NIC erased a 42-33 deficit to pull even at 44. Back-to-back steals led to a Nagle dunk and Jovan Lincoln’s three-point play, helping NIC to a 52-46 lead with 4:40 left.

It was far from over. Dixie was within 57-56 before Deshazer hit one of two free throws. Dixie had a chance to tie when guard Henry Uhegwu was fouled in the lane with 5.4 seconds left, but he missed both free throws. Disy retrieved the second miss and was fouled. He converted both free throws to seal the win.

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