After putting up a good fight, the Dixie State University women’s basketball team’s season ended with a loss to Hawaii Pacific University.
The Red Storm entered the Pacific West Conference Tournament as the No. 4 seed. The tourney began on March 7 at Azusa Pacific University as the Storm opened against University of Hawaii at Hilo—whom they have taken victory against in seven straight games overall.
Dixie started the first game with a little trouble maintaining the lead. After five lead changes in the first five minutes, the Red Storm finally started to take control 12 minutes in with a four-point lead. They continued on to a 12-0 run.
By the end of the first half, the score was 37-19 for Dixie. The Red Storm went on to win the game 81-63 against UH-Hilo.
“We played well,” head coach Derek Dawes said. “The win against Hilo was one of our most complete and well-rounded games of the season. They were a really good team and we rose to the challenge.”
That win advanced Dixie onto the semi-finals where it played the No. 1 seed, Hawaii Pacific University, on March 8.
DSU fell to HPU 88-74 through the hard-fought battle. The Sea Warriors nearly doubled the score as they leaped to a 41-25 lead at half-time.
The Storm out-scored HPU in the second half, but that wasn’t enough for DSU to win the game.
“We played well, but not well enough,” Dawes said. “They shot lights out from the 3-point range and were on fire for most the game. We made some mistakes, sure, but the effort was there. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat to the better team, and HPU was the better team on that night.”
Overall Dawes said the girls came prepared, and the tournament went well.
“Obviously we went out earlier than we wanted, but we had a great experience,” Dawes said. “Azusa Pacific University did a phenomenal job of hosting the tournament.”
Dawes said it was exciting to be in that atmosphere and to see the other teams that participated in the tournament.
Dixie State ended the year with a 15-13 record.
“I feel that the sky is the limit for next year’s team,” Dawes said. “A lot of the ladies that will be returning gained experience this year and, combined with those who will be eligible next year after redshirting this past year, the team will be really, really good.”
However, Dawes will not be returning to coach the team next year.
“As for me, I am done,” Dawes said. “This was purely (an) interim assignment for me, and I feel fortunate to have been asked to fill in.”
He said he has enjoyed getting to know the women and coaching along-side assistant coaches Kawika Stant and Sheila Adams.
“They did an amazing job and should be given all credit in the world,” Dawes said.
He said it was a great experience for him. He is looking forward to seeing what the new coach can do next year.
“For the overall season, I was proud of the ladies and the growth that we had together,” Dawes said. “We had some ups and downs, but we learned a lot from each other and were able to win some games and have an overall good experience.”
DSU Athletic Director Jason Boothe said he thinks the team has done really well.
With Dawes coming in mid-season, it was a hard adjustment for the program.
“But that is why we wanted Derek,” Boothe said. “He is familiar [with] the team; he [had] been watching them all year.”
The position for women’s basketball head coach is up and will be open until March 22.
Boothe hopes to have someone in that position by the first or second week of April.