ST. GEORGE — It was an eventful night at Burns Arena as the Trailblazers men and women’s basketball teams played a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference doubleheader on Friday against the Hardrockers of South Dakota Mines.
The women’s team had an open opportunity for a three that would have won their game at the buzzer, but they lost a 70-68 nail-biter in overtime. The men’s team started their game off slow, but were able to get it going later in the first half and hold on to an eight-point victory over SD Mines, 77-69, to remain undefeated.
Ranked men’s basketball overcomes slow start
The men’s team started their game off slow against SD Mines, giving up six unanswered points. But a Jon Judkins early timeout stopped the bleeding for the Trailblazers.
DSU (7-0, 2-0 in RMAC) came out with a purpose after that early timeout, going into the locker up eight at the half. One thing that was consistent was DSU’s efforts on the glass and their pace throughout the game.
One of the biggest things that stood out on the stat sheet for the Trailblazers, ranked No. 16 in the coaches poll, 15 in the CoSIDA poll, was Dixie’s domination on the glass. They out rebounded the Hardrockers 40-27, with 11 offensive rebounds and 13 second-chance points. That was really the difference in the game.
“We really worked on that a lot in practice,” Judkins said of their rebounding. “That was a big key, keep them off the glass, one shot only and I think we did a good job of that.”
Another big game changer was the ability of the Trailblazer guards to push the ball and attack the paint. Judkins was consistently yelling at Jack Pagenkopf to push the ball up the floor, trying to pick up the overall pace of the game.
Combine that with some pressure on the SD Mines ball handlers, and it could make for a tiring game for the guards. This is where a deep bench and rotation come into play.
“It’s tiring but you’ve got to do it if you want to play,” Pagenkopf said. “As long as I can stay in my stance and not jump to much, I’m fine. Just think more than run around because if you just fly around the whole game being in the full court you’ll be dead.”
With two players in double figures and three more with eight points, nine DSU players scored on the night. The bigger rotation means that more players will be fresh for their second game in two days Saturday, which Judkins pointed out as one of the biggest advantages of having a deep bench. It also allows others to step up when players have off nights.
“It’s nice to have that because Frank didn’t play one of his better games tonight,” Judkins said of their depth. “Then I put Andre in, I put Lleyton in and they were a lot more aggressive. I thought Jarod came off the bench and gave us good minutes. It’s nice to have a bench that deep. If somebody else has a bad game, somebody steps up.”
The Trailblazers exposed SD Mines on defense by working the ball inside out. Not only did they have an even attack between their bigs in the post, but they also drove the ball into the paint and were able to get open kick out threes. Pagenkopf pointed out the fact that their big men can shoot the ball and extend the defense as a big factor in their ability to attack the rim.
“We talked about that, that when we drive they were really collapsing hard,” Judkins said of their drives to the paint. “We kind of weren’t making those extra outside passes. It’s like football, you’ve got to have a running game to have a passing game. In basketball, you’ve got to have an inside game for an outside game. Once we started driving, collapsing and kicking it to hit some threes, then it opens up the driving lanes.”
Dixie State looks to continue on their undefeated season as they play Black Hills at home tonight at 7:30 p.m. Black Hills is coming off of a tough one-point loss to Westminster on Friday, so they will be looking to get one win on their road trip.
Women’s basketball misfire in loss
Coming off a tight conference loss to a good Westminster team and a great effort against Division I Utah State, the Trailblazers looked good in the first half, going into the locker room up six. Their biggest problem in the first half, and the first quarter in particular, was their inability to get good looks.
The Trailblazers (5-3, 0-2 in RMAC) shot just 21.4% from the field and 25% from three-point land in the first quarter. While their shooting recovered in the second half, defense kept the Trailblazers in the game early. SD Mines only scored 21 points in the first half. Every time head coach JD Gustin has talked about his team, he has been focused on defense.
That defensive performance took a turn for the worst in the third quarter as DSU gave up 25, putting the Trailblazers down five going into the fourth quarter.
Dixie State did not give up easily, going on a run in the fourth quarter behind some great plays from London Pavlica and Ali Franks.
With Dixie down late, Franks was their go-to scorer. The Trailblazers missed a layup that would have tied the game, but Franks did not give up on the play. She grabbed the offensive rebound and put it back in to get the tie. They then got a huge stop on defense and had a good look at the win, but could not convert. The game went into overtime.
Franks came out of the gate in overtime with a three that sparked the DSU bench, but they ultimately got outscored. With 8.5 seconds left, Dixie had the ball and Franks had an open look at a three, but missed. SD Mines ended up slipping away with the road win.
The Trailblazers women take on Black Hills State at Burns Arena today at 5:30 p.m. in the second game of their RMAC doubleheader. Black Hills lost 69-53 against Westminster Friday night.
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