ST. GEORGE — The Dixie State basketball teams capped off their second to last home double header with a program sweep over Western Colorado Saturday.
The women’s team jumped out to an early lead and held on to get a 68-54 win over Western Colorado while the men’s team controlled their entire game en route to a 30-point win.
The Trailblazers bounced back after a close loss to the top team in the region, Colorado Mesa, and came out with energy from the start of the game. That energy slowed a little in the second half but DSU still took the double-digit win, 68-54.
“They’re really good, they’re ranked whatever they are in the region for a reason and it’s really hard to play with a 20-point lead,” head coach JD Gustin said. “We talked about it at the half, I knew it was going to be a challenge. We said, ‘you want to be content with 20 minutes and ruin your next 20 minutes,’ and we didn’t respond but we still grinded it out. Super proud of them for that.”
DSU (13-6. 8-5 in conference) had a commanding 20-point lead at the half. The offense was clicking with ease as the Trailblazers score 43 points in the first half but that changed in the second half.
“We got into a rush because it’s hard to play time and score when you’re up 20 as opposed to when it’s even,” Gustin said of the second-half offensive struggles. “They were playing passive. We had that first cut and they didn’t go to it by risk of a turnover and then we end up turning it over 21 times anyways.”
DSU only scored 25 points in the second half while Western Colorado put up 31 points. The late push from Western Colorado was not enough as the Trailblazers had built up a big enough lead in the first half to hold on to the win.
When asked about how they try to combat that rough play with a 20-point lead, Gustin said they try to switch the focus on to defense. He wanted them dialed in on their defensive game plan and his team was. They only allowed 54 points, 26 of those being free throws, and a 22.8% mark from the field.
Gustin said his team switched up the style of their practices this week, and it showed as the Trailblazers played well both Friday and Saturday nights.
“It’s always good to come back but we’ve got to work on doing it both nights now,” Madi Loftus said. “It’s a hard thing to do and we’ll learn it but we’ve just got to focus on being ready to play on Fridays.”
Ali Franks led all scorers with 18 points while London Pavlica had 16 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.
The Trailblazers now go on the road for the next two weeks before returning home, but that isn’t the end of the travel schedule.
“We’re seven out of nine on the road, this is really really hard and I love the challenge,” Gustin said. “I’m really excited about it. We’ll see what we’re made of guys, it’s going to be a fun challenge.”
DSU travels to Fort Lewis and Adams State next weekend and their next home game will be on February 14.
With the total attendance being 3,493 people, according to the Dixie State box score, the Burns Arena was rocking on Saturday night.
With the energy in the building, the men’s team took an 11-point lead at halftime and pushed it to a 30-point game in the fourth to get the blowout 87-57 home win.
The one thing that was evident on the night was the unselfishness of the Trailblazers (16-3, 11-2 in conference) and their ability to share the ball. The team finished the game with 24 assists, only nine turnovers and five players in double figures.
“It’s hard to guard,” head coach Jon Judkins said of their offense. “We talked about that at halftime, we had six assists and six turnover at half. We finished the second half with 18 assists and three turnovers. When we defend, share the ball and we get out and run it’s fun. It was fun to coach tonight.”
Dason Youngblood and Hunter Schofield both had 21 points, a team high.
“I just felt comfortable,” Youngblood said. “I love playing with my teammates, we have a good time, we share the ball and we set a lot of good screens. I had a lot of open drives because of good screens.”
Jack Pagenkopf also chipped in 11 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds in the winning effort.
After sweeping the last two weekends at home, the Trailblazers have a daunting task ahead. Seven of their last nine games are on the road and the travel in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference is not kind.
“We just have to be focused,” Judkins said about the road games. “We can’t worry about what we have done. One of our assistants said it’s like driving a car at night, the headlights are on, you’ve got to focus that 100 yards. If we can just stay focused I think we’ll be fine. It’ll be a tough part of our season, it’s going to be more mental then anything and we’ve got to try and keep them fresh.”
This is the final stretch of the season where you want your team to be playing their best basketball and the Trailblazers (16-3, 11-2) have been doing that over the last couple of weeks.
“Right now, I love how we’re playing, I love how we’re sharing it and I love how we’re defending,” Judkins said. “This weekend our defense was probably the best we’ve played all year.”
The men’s team has the same road schedule as the women’s team and they will return home on February 14.
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