STERLING – Dixon's Laron Carr channeled his inner Stephen Curry, and that meant trouble for Sterling.
Carr poured in a career-high 25 points to lead the Dukes to 60-46 victory over the Golden Warriors on Friday night at Musgrove Fieldhouse. Dixon (17-5, 5-1) remained a game behind Ottawa (18-1, 7-0) in the loss column in the Northern Illinois Big 12 West.
Carr, who averages 11.7 points per game, spent Thursday night watching the Golden State Warriors defeat the Chicago Bulls 102-87. Curry, the Warriors' crafty, All-Star point guard, poured in 34 points, including a 4-for-6 performance from 3-point range.
Carr nearly equaled that on Friday, hitting 4 of 7 attempts from downtown.
"I remind myself of Steph Curry," Carr said with a smile. "That's who I like, so if I'm open, I'm shooting it. I have confidence in my shot."
Carr was equally efficient from close range, where he was 4-for-5 to finish 9-for-13 overall.
"I just felt like my shot was there," Carr said. "They couldn't really stay in front of me, so when I had the chances, I just took advantage to go to the rim."
The Dukes didn't put the game away until late. They entered the final quarter ahead just 42-39, and Sterling (6-10, 2-3) was within 47-43 when senior forward Draque Penaflor-Heier hit a layup with just more than 5 minutes remaining.
Over the next 2 minutes, however, Dixon went on a 9-0 run. Isaiah Roby had two baskets, Cal Jarrett had one, and the surge was capped by a 3 from Carr to put the Dukes up 56-43.
Sterling's Zach Rehmert responded with a 3 to make it 56-46 with 2:45 to play, but the Golden Warriors frittered away a golden opportunity to do further damage. After forcing a turnover, Juan Gomez missed a layup, then Sterling Thornton missed a putback with 2:30 to play.
After a scramble for the rebound, the Warriors retained possession, but ran 47 seconds off the clock before being whistled for traveling.
"We didn't really execute our offense like we wanted to, and they just made plays down the stretch," Sterling junior Joe Brouilette said. "They have some really talented players, and they made plays when they needed to."
Sterling was 3-for-10 from the field in the fourth quarter, and also missed a pair from the line. The inability to finish games strong is something that has been a problem, and was again on Friday, according to head coach Jim Preston.
"The scoreboard said we did, and the scoreboard doesn't lie," Preston said. "It's not that the kids aren't trying. I know they are, but we just haven't got that fixed yet. It's on all of us to fix it. It's a learning process, and it'll happen when it's ready to happen."
Rehmert led the Warriors with 18 points, while Thornton and Hurley finished with five apiece.
Thornton, who averages 11.5 points per game, was the focus of the Dixon defense. Dixon coach Jason Mead had one of his best defenders, Jarrett, shadow his every move.
"He likes to pull up, and he likes to get in the middle," Jarrett said of Thornton. "I just tried to make it hard for him to get the ball, and when he did get the ball, when he'd go up, I tried to get my hand in there and bother him."
The first time Dixon played Sterling, a 47-45 win for the Dukes back on Dec. 13, Jarrett guarded Rehmert and held him to five points.
"He cares about winning more than he cares about scoring," Mead said of Jarrett. "Most guys that start since they were a freshman, it's 'I've got to get my points.' He exerted a lot of effort on the defensive side of the floor tonight, and he deserves a lot of credit for that."
Roby backed Carr on the offensive end with 22 points on 9-for-16 shooting. Jarrett added 11 points, while Matt Coffey, with two points, was the only other Dixon player to score.
Star of the game: Laron Carr, Dixon, 25 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
Key performers: Isaiah Roby, Dixon, 22 points, 6 rebounds; Zach Rehmert, Sterling, 18 points, 4 rebounds
Up next: Sterling at Sycamore, 7 p.m. Tuesday; LaSalle-Peru at Dixon, 7:30 p.m. Friday