ST. GEORGE — Dixie State started slow in their home opener, trailing 7-6 at the first media timeout, but they quickly came to life. The Trailblazers went into the locker room up 46-30 and kept it rolling through the second half, with the final score being 77-59.
La Sierra played a zone defense for the entire game and Dixie State had some trouble adjusting to it at first. This confusion led to 9 turnovers in the first half and countless empty possessions.
“It’s good to get one under our belt, first home game,” head coach JD Gustin said. “I wish we would have had a little bit more energy and enthusiasm for a home opener, but we’re grateful to get it done.”
Senior Ali Franks led the charge for the Trailblazers, scoring 23 points while grabbing eight rebounds in 28 minutes. She was working the short corners and high post most of the game while La Sierra was running their 2-3 zone, and she had success getting easy baskets and finding her teammates out of the zone offense.
“Our philosophy is, get the ball inside to kick it out but when we got it inside we noticed that they collapsed up high so i’m going to drop it down low every time,” Franks said.
Her head coach was happy with her performance, but he said this was nothing special. This is something that is expected of his senior guard and leader of the team.
Gustin said this is the first time their team has played against a primarily zone defense all season. They had only practiced it for a short time while preparing for the season, so this acted as a nice tune up to see how the Trailblazers reacted to it. Gustin took this as a good takeaway from the game.
Freshman Emily Isaacson also had a big game for the Trailblazers. She contributed 13 rebounds, four assists and six points. As a senior, Franks added that it means a lot to see a freshman getting into the mix, and cleaning up rebounds down low.
“She’s just a really good player,” Gustin said of Isaacson. “She has a bright future for us here at Dixie State and we’re really glad to have her. She’s also a tremendous offensive player as well.”
The biggest discrepancy of the game was the battle in the post. La Sierra did a great job of feeding their post players, Luiza Rodrigues and De’Brianna Hampton, who both had a combined 37 points. The post players accounted for over 60% of the points La Sierra scored.
“We got to look way better there,” Gustin said of their post defense. “That’s the biggest thing that we’ll take away, how we got dominated in the post by them. That was very surprising and that shouldn’t have happened. That can’t happen moving forward, and we’ll get that fixed.”
This game was a learning experience for Dixie State. Yes they won by 18, but there are still improvements to be made while there are also some bright spots.
Dixie State takes the floor again on Saturday at 3 p.m. against Life Pacific in the second game of their home back-to-back.
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