DIXON – Youthful Dixon handled Sterling's frenetic pressure for a half. The second half, however, was all Golden Warriors.
The Dukes led by eight points twice late in the first half, but Sterling caught fire in the third quarter. The Warriors pulled ahead and away for a 70-51 Northern Illinois Big 12 West win Saturday night at Lancaster Gym.
The Warriors (4-4, 1-1) forced 34 turnovers and rode Zach Rehmert's 24-point second half to victory. A halftime chat helped Rehmert.
"I talked to coach V [sophmore coach Ryan Vasquez] in the locker room," said Rehmert, who scored a game-high 26 points in all. "He told me I had to start shooting and putting up points, because our team needed me. So I listened to him and started finding my shot."
Did he ever. Rehmert went 5-for-8, including 3-for-4 from 3-point range, in the third quarter and scored 13 points. He went 3-for-4 (2-for-2 from 3) and scored 11 points in the fourth.
Dixon (2-7, 1-1) was up 31-25 at the break. Sophomores Laron Carr and Cal Jarrett led the way for the Dukes in the first half, both scoring 11 points. Jarrett wound up with a team-high 19, while Carr tossed in 14.
"We did good in the first half. We moved the ball and played good defense," Carr said. "I don't know what happened in the second half. We started getting tired. They started wearing us out."
Trailing 34-27 with just over 6 minutes left in the third quarter, Sterling erupted. The Warriors outscored the Dukes 24-6 the rest of the quarter.
Tre Whittaker tossed in 12 points for the Warriors, who also got nine points from Micah Miller.
"It's high risk, high reward for us," Sterling coach Jim Preston said. "In the second half the kids did a nice job of staying with it. We have to force turnovers. If we're not disciplined, we'll pay for it."
Dixon, which is without injured starter Michael Conley, had just two seniors and one junior among its 11 players that saw action.
"They play 12 or 13 guys, and eventually we got tired," Dukes coach Jason Mead said. "I thought our kids responded well in the first half. In the second half we made a lot of inexperienced mistakes."
Star of the game: Zach Rehmert, Sterling, game-high 26 points, 24 in 2nd half
Key performers: Cal Jarrett, Dixon, team-high 19 points; Laron Carr, Dixon, 14 points; Tre Whittaker, Sterling, 12 points
Up next: Dixon at LaSalle-Peru, 7:30 p.m. Friday; Galesburg at Sterling, 7 p.m. Dec. 18