The 16-point performance was a season-high for Papenfuss, who added six rebounds and three assists.
"I thought Curtis had one of his better games tonight," head coach Jon Judkins said. "He shot the ball extremely well and rebounded well for us. Some guys need a game like this for confidence and hopefully this helps him."
Zach Robbins (Upland, CA) produced his third consecutive double-double (eighth total) with a team-high 17 points and 10 rebounds.
The Sunbirds suited only six players for the Pacific West Conference game due to a string of fresh injuries.
Fresno Pacific (5-10/0-7 PacWest) opened with an offensive rebound and a dunk, but a subsequent 11-0 run seized momentum for DSU. DeQuan Thompson (Las Vegas, NV) sparked the rally with a steal leading to a three-point play. Robbins followed with a jumper, Kimball Payne (Alpine, UT) led a fast break for a lay-in and Robbie Nielson (Gresham, OR) followed a missed shot with a tip-in.
Malcolm Griffin hit the first of his four triples to end the run. Nielson and Thompson answered back with long distance shots to build a 12-point lead. The final Griffin 3-ball trimmed DSU's advantage to 22-17.
Dixie State (13-1/6-1 PacWest) followed with a 9-1 run, including five straight points from Papenfuss. The Storm maintained a double-digit lead from the 6:01 mark to the halftime break. Thompson's late 3-pointer gave DSU a 47-31 halftime lead.
The Sunbirds pulled within 13 points twice early in the second half, but an eight-minute period midway through the second half belonged to the home team. A 23-8 spurt capped by 12 straight points pushed the lead to 28 points, 72-44. FPU was stymied to 10-37 shooting, with 0-of-10 from downtown, in the final 20 minutes.
DSU hit half of their shots for the night (34-68) and 58 percent from behind the arc (7-12). The Storm also benefitted from their best percentage from the charity stripe all season (90.9 percent, 10-11)
Thompson closed the night with 14 points and four rebounds. Louis Garrett (Saint George, UT), 13 points, and Payne (11 points) each had nine points after the break. Jordan Rex pulled down seven rebounds and Nielson, in his second start, ripped down six boards.
Griffin led Fresno Pacific with 22 points. Josh Mason added 14 points and six rebounds.
Dixie State embarks on a two-game road trip to Southern California. First on the schedule is a matchup of two nationally ranked teams on Saturday night, Jan. 18, when the Red Storm face undefeated California Baptist (14-0/8-0). Tip from Van Dyne Gym is set for 7:30 p.m. Pacific, 8:30 p.m. Mountain.