Trailblazers lose 3rd straight, fall to Wildcats 64-50; T-birds get mauled by Bears

ST. GEORGE — The Trailblazers are still trying to find their path in the Western Athletic Conference.

The Dixie State men’s basketball team fell in its third consecutive contest Saturday night, losing a dismal game 64-50 against Abilene Christian University at Burns Arena.

“That’s a good team. We lost to a good team tonight,” Dixie State coach Jon Judkins told St. George News after the game. “We had to play a really good game, a perfect game tonight to beat them. And 27 turnovers are not getting that done.”

ACU presented a formidable challenge from the opening tip off. The Wildcats came to St. George with a 10-2 record. 

Out of the Southland Conference at the time, ACU posted a win over Texas in the opening round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

Dixie State’s Dancell Leter splits the Abilene Christian defenders in a WAC basketball game, St. George, Utah, Jan. 1, 2022 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Now both new members of the Western Athletic Conference, the Trailblazers and Wildcats combined for 52 fouls and 63 missed field goals in the contest.

The numbers from the 3-point line were equally grievous. Dixie State sank two of its 18 attempts from 3-point land, while the visitors netted four of 20 long balls. Totaling 32 more misses. 

“I didn’t know if the game was ever going to end,” ACU coach Brette Tanner told St. George News. “All credit to them, they did a good job defensively. We’re just lucky they missed some shots.”

The first half against ACU was a repeat of Thursday night’s second half in Dixie’s 83-69 defeat to Tarleton State.

Dixie fell behind early, had a rally sparked by Dancell Leter and Trevon Allfrey, then yielded hard fought points late in the game.

“I think both teams were defending,” Judkins said. “That’s why the score was so low. We were patient, they were patient. We held them to 36% shooting. Most times you win games like that.”

ACU’s Cameron Steele scorched Dixie State with 23 points, 19 of them in the first half.

The Trailblazers were led by Leter’s 15-point effort and 10 points from Hunter Schofield.

Frank Staine put in solid work during his over 28 minutes of action for Dixie State.

Dixie State defends against Abilene Christian in a WAC basketball game, St. George, Utah, Jan. 1, 2022 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

The sophomore from Inglewood, Calif., matched 6 points with six rebounds, five on the defensive end. He fouled out of the contest, as did Dixie State’s Isaiah Pope, part of the team’s 29 personal fouls.

Brock Gilbert was whistled four times. Nine of Dixie’s 10 rostered players committed at least one personal foul in the game. 

The visiting Wildcats kept pace with 23 team fouls. None fouled out, but Reggie Miller and Mahki Morris each recorded four personals for ACU.

“I’m not saying we weren’t fouling,” Tanner said. “We play a physical game. That’s what we do.” 

ACU improved to 11-2, 2-0 WAC with the win. Dixie slipped to below .500, 7-8 overall, with the loss. 

The Trailblazers will seek their first conference win in Orem Jan. 8 when they travel up I-15 to play Utah Valley.

“It’s hard to win on the road,” Judkins said. “Mentally you’ve got to be more tough. Maybe that’s something this team needs. Maybe going on the road will help.”

Bears 91, Thunderbirds 81

Southern Utah University saw it’s 20-game winning streak at home end after losing Saturday night 91-81 to the University of Northern Colorado at the America First Event Center.

SUU saw five different players score double digits in the game, led by Maizen Fausett’s 21-point effort. John Knight III and Aanen Moody each scored 14 for the T-Birds. Tevian Jones and Harrison Butler both contributed 13 points to the cause.

Meanwhile the Bears sank 17 3-pointers in the win and set the tone by taking a quick 13-3 lead to open the game. Northern Colorado improved to 8-7 and remained unbeaten in Big Sky Conference play.

SUU slipped to 9-5 overall and 3-1 Big Sky. The T-Birds will look to get back on track Thursday night in Cedar City at 7 p.m. when they host Portland State.

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