EDINBURG, Texas — Dixie State saw its losing skid hit four games as the Trailblazers dropped a 72-65 decision at UT Rio Grande Valley on Saturday night inside the UTRGV Fieldhouse. With the loss, DSU fell to 4-5 overall, 0-2 in WAC play.
The Trailblazers and Vaqueros battled back and forth through an even opening 20 minutes that saw both sides shoot 50 percent from the floor and get balanced scoring up and down the line-up.
Dixie opened up a 22-18 lead midway through the stanza thanks to eight-straight points and owned a 33-30 advantage with under four minutes to play, but UTRGV scored seven of the final nine points of the period to take a slim 37-35 lead into the halftime break.
The second half began like the first as both teams traded buckets until the Trailblazers vaulted to their biggest lead of the night at 55-49 after a Cameron Gooden 3-pointer with 14:09 to play.
From there, the Dixie State offense went ice cold from the floor as the Blazers missed on 15 of their final 17 field goal attempts. Meanwhile, the Vaqueros rattled off a 15-3 run of their own en route to their own six-point cushion at 64-58 with 8:20 remaining.
Though the Trailblazers struggled on the offensive end, Dixie State still managed to stay within striking distance as UTRGV went through a scoring drought, while DSU also hit 6-of-10 from the charity stripe including an Isaiah Pope free throw that made it a one-possession game at 66-63 with 3:30 left.
However, that would be as close as Dixie State would get as Gooden was called for an offensive foul on a made lay-in with 2:27 on the clock. UTRGV forward Uche Dibiamaka then followed with a baseline drive and dunk, and the Vaqueros hit their free throws down the stretch to ice the win.
Gooden led all scorers with 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting, including 11 second-half points to keep DSU in the game. Hunter Schofield added 13 points off the bench and Jarod Greene finished with 10 points.
Dixie State shot 42.9 percent from the floor (24-of-56), but hit on just 35.7 percent (10-of-28) of its attempts after halftime, and went 19.2 percent (5-of-26) from 3-point country. DSU also missed 10 free throws (12-of-22, .545), but the Blazers did outrebound UTRGV by a 42-37 count.
Javon Levin led five Vaquero players in double figures with 16 points and dished out a game-high 11 assists. UTRGV connected on 45.9 percent (28-of-61) of its shots, 4-of-19 (.211) from the perimeter.
Dixie State returns home for a two-game series against current WAC co-leader and former Pacific West Conference rival Grand Canyon next weekend, Jan. 22-23.
Tip-off each night inside the Burns Arena is slated for 7 p.m.
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