Dixie State women’s hoops off to best start in nine years, grinds out win against Saint Martin’s

ST. GEORGE — Dixie State women’s basketball held off Saint Martin’s after a late push to get the win, 74-71 on Saturday.

The Trailblazers offense struggled on offense in the first half, but shot much better in the second. Madi Loftus led the way for DSU with 20 points off the bench, while Ashley Greenwood added 13 points.

The Trailblazers shot just 30% from the field in the first half, but went into the locker room only down one, 30-29. Their defense is what really held them up through their offensive struggles, and head coach JD Gustin has been harping on their defense since the beginning of the season.

“You watch the NBA, you watch college basketball, that happens sometimes,” Gustin said of the offensive struggles. “The best part about us now is we’re finally guarding, we’re going to rely on our defense. There’s going to be times when we are going to make all of those shots and we’re going to be able to steamroll folks if we continue to guard.”

Dixie State really began to make their push in the third quarter when the offense came to life. This is when Loftus found her rhythm, which carried into the fourth quarter.

She made three of her four three-point baskets in the second half, scoring 15 of her 20 points in the final 20 minutes. As the old saying goes, shooters keep shooting, and that’s exactly what Loftus did. Gustin liked how she continued to fight through it even though she was struggling.

DSU women’s basketball vs Saint Martin’s, St. George, Utah, Nov. 23, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

“I just wanted to make sure I was comfortable in the shots I was taking,” Loftus said. “The easiest way to get into rhythm is taking rhythm shots and not forcing things. I just waited till my teammates got me the right shot and then I was more comfortable shooting those shots. I think that worked out well.”

It did work out well as Loftus also knocked down two clutch free throws down the stretch to keep it a three-point game with 9.7 seconds left on the clock. Some coaches prefer to foul in that situation, but Gustin didn’t.

“We didn’t, but that’s something that we’ve talked a lot about in the past. That’s a philosophy thing,” Gustin said. “In this case, with the way that we’re trying to be solid defensively, it wasn’t really in consideration.”

The Trailblazers were exactly that, but Gustin said their goal is to normally hold teams to 50 points in a game. The Trailblazers gave up 21 more points than that, but he brought up the pace of the game and how well the Saints played. Coming into the game, Saint Martin’s had only hit six three pointers. They had 10 against the Trailblazers.

DSU women’s basketball vs Saint Martin’s, St. George, Utah, Nov. 23, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

The physicality of the game was also evident. In fact, there was some pushing and shoving that resulted in a double technical foul. With the Division I move coming shortly, Gustin said they should get used to that physicality.

” We’re going to get people’s best shot,” Gusting said. “We just got their best game and beat them. That’s a really big deal for us.”

Dixie State has a week off now as they prepare to start Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference play against Westminster at home on Nov. 30 at 5:30 p.m.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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