ST. GEORGE – The Dixie State women’s basketball team opened the season with a 68-54 loss to visiting Colorado Mesa Friday in the Burns Arena.
Most coaches stress defense and rebounding as keys to winning. The Blazers defended well, but the Mavericks pulled down 21 offensive rebounds. That translated into 12 more shots at the offensive end.
“It is frustrating to watch us play good defense and then to give them another possession with an offensive rebound,” said Dixie State head coach J.D. Gustin. “There is no excuse for allowing that many rebounds. Blocking out and getting to the loose-ball rebounds is vital.”
The Mavericks jumped out to an 8-5 lead to start the game. DSU’s Matti Ventling hit a 3-point shot that sparked an 8-0 run. Ventling’s three-point play ended the run and gave the Trailblazers a 13-8 lead with 3:58 left in the first quarter. The Mavericks closed on 7-4 run to pull within 17-15 to end the first.
“We got plenty of great shots in our offense,” said Ventling. “We executed well and got plenty of open looks. We scored in spurts, but also had some dry spells where the shots weren’t falling.”
Two quick baskets from Lisa VanCampen and Sandria Bolden opened up the lead to 22-15 for the Blazers to start the second. But the Rams stormed back and tied the game at 22-22 with 6:23 remaining in the half. The two teams stayed close for the next few minutes until the Rams went on a 6-0 run to take a 34-28 lead with just over one minute remaining in the half. Dixie had a mini run to close the half. Gabby Cabanero’s two free throws pulled the Blazers to 36-33.
In the third quarter, the Rams would lead by as many as seven points twice and took a 47-42 lead into the fourth. The lead quickly climbed to eight to begin the fourth. Ashley Burge’s three-point play cut the lead to 52-47 with 5:17 remaining in the game. Tramina Jordan hit a 3-pointer with 4:20 left to cut the lead to 54-50. Three consecutive Ram buckets pushed the lead to 10, then the visitors started to run clock. The back breaker was a 3-pointer from the left side as the shot clock hit zero by CMU’s Nicole Archambeau with 1:53 remaining to give the Mavericks a 63-50 lead.
Kili Franks entered the game for the first time in her collegiate career and immediately paid dividends with a three-point play to cut the lead to 10. The remaining part of the game saw the Blazers forced to foul to stop the clock. With free throws, the final tally ended 68-54.
“We lost tonight but we did improve over our play last week in the scrimmage,” said VanCampen. “We ran our offense better and communicated better on the floor. We know we need to improve our defensive rebounding.”
Dixie State shot 31.6 percent from the floor for the game. They were outrebounded 53-40 by the Mavericks. Individually, Burge led the team in scoring with 13 points. Also scoring in double figures were Ventling (12) and Bolden (10). VanCampen led the team with 11 rebounds. Ventling and Bolden also had three assists apiece.
“Colorado Mesa made some adjustments at halftime,” said Gustin. “They took away some of the stuff we wanted to do in our offense. I thought for our first game that we saw overall improvement.”
The Blazers cannot rest long before they get on the court again. Sunday they will play a team with several experienced players in Simon Fraser University. Game time at Burns Arena is set for 3 p.m.
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