Utah Tech basketball teams split against Cal Baptist; Jaylen Searles dazzles with 33

ST. GEORGE — Jaylen Searles went off for a career-best 33 points in Burns Arena on Saturday, leading Utah Tech’s men’s basketball team to its second consecutive Western Athletic Conference victory.

Utah Tech’s Unisa Turay passes against Cal Baptist in a WAC men’s basketball game, St. George, Utah, Feb. 10, 2024 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

The Trailblazers erupted for a 45-28 halftime lead over visiting Cal Baptist, fueled by the sizzling Searles, then finished off an 85-78 victory in front of a small crowd at home.

Searles, a 6-foot-8 junior from Everett, Washington, seemingly could not miss in a 12-for-16 shooting performance from the field.

He sank a 3-pointer, went 8-for-9 from the free throw line, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out four assists and pilfered four steals in 38 minutes of playing time.

The Trailblazers gained more ground in the WAC standings, improving to 6-7. Utah Tech is within one game of the next three teams ahead of them.

Grand Canyon (11-1) and Tarleton State (10-3) remain comfortably ahead of the WAC pack.

Cal Baptist almost completely erased a 20-point deficit against Utah Tech in the second half on Saturday, but the Trailblazers maintained composure down the stretch to pull out the win.

Beon Riley was the only other Trailblazer in double-digits against the Lancers, posting 12 points before fouling out.

Tennessee Rainwater may have put in the most valuable two minutes for the Trailblazers. The 6-foot-6 freshman from Davenport, Washington scored four points and grabbed three defensive rebounds that proved vital down the stretch.

Utah Tech’s Beon Riley shoots over Cal Baptist in a WAC men’s basketball game, St. George, Utah, Feb. 10, 2024 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News

Rainwater’s pair of free throws, coming with 18 seconds left and then with two seconds remaining, clinched the victory for Utah Tech.

Scotty Washington came off the bench and kept Cal Baptist in the game, pouring in five 3-pointers and 20 points to lead the Lancers in defeat.

Utah Tech limited their turnovers to 10 and made nine steals in the win.

The Trailblazers go back on the road Thursday, Feb. 15, to face WAC-leading Grand Canyon in Phoenix, Arizona.

Utah Tech’s women saw their five-game winning streak snapped against Cal Baptist in a 73-65 defeat Saturday afternoon in Riverside, California.

The home team raced out to leads of 21-14 after the first quarter and 35-32 at halftime. The Lancers led 52-50 after three quarters in a close game.

Cal Baptist hasn’t lost at home this year and is 11-1 in conference play, good for second-place. Utah Tech slipped to 8-5 in conference play and currently sits in fourth-place in the standings.

Breaunna Gillen led Utah Tech’s joust with the Lancers, scoring 17 points.

Calyn Dallas had a good game with 15 points from five 3-pointers and Maggie McCord contributed 14 points for the Trailblazers.

Chloe Webb led Cal Baptist with a solid all around line of 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists, four steals and one block.

Up next for Utah Tech is a home tilt against WAC-leading Grand Canyon on Thursday, Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at Burns Arena.

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