This year, the women’s basketball team started its winter break in Sin City, where it competed in the annual Las Vegas Challenge, and got to finish the break with a week-long trip to Hawaii.
The Red Storm’s struggles continued in the Las Vegas Challenge when they lost two games to Seattle Pacific and Western Oregon. Cold outside shooting and turnovers plagued the women as they dropped to 3-6 on the season.
DSU returned home to Burns Arena to start PacWest conference play against Holy Names University on Dec. 20. Junior center Taylor Mann led Dixie to an 82-66 victory by scoring 20 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Senior guard Taylor Maynes also notched a double-double in the win.
Following the win, Dixie State welcomed Academy of Art, who entered St. George with an undefeated PacWest record (4-0). Once again, Mann carried the Storm en route to a career night. Mann scored 26 points and snagged 19 rebounds, but that would not be enough as A of A escaped with a 70-67 win.
Mann gives all the credit to her teammates and their game plan.
“They are told to get to the rim, and when they do, they go hard, which gives me a lot of easy buckets.” said Mann, a junior English major from Castle Dale. “They make me look a lot better on paper than I really am.”
After another tough loss, the DSU women also headed to Hawaii, where things wouldn’t get any easier. The trip tipped off at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, where the women seemed to suffer from a little bit of jet-lag, shooting only 30 percent from the field and surrendering an 11-point second half lead. Junior guard Leslie Tademy had 16 points, but Dixie State fell to the Vulcans 68-63.
Looking to get back on track, Dixie State jumped to the island of Oahu to face the win less Chaminade Silverswords. It looked as if Chaminade would get their first win of the season, leading by as much as 15 in the first half.
Behind Mann’s third double-double (16 points, 13 rebounds) in four games, and another 16-point outing from Tademy, the Storm used the 3-point shot and free throws to rally back. Mann made five of six from the charity stripe in the final minute to put Chaminade away 75-68.
The final game of the trip would be the toughest, facing rival BYU-Hawaii. The Seasiders came in to the game 4-2 in conference play and sat just one game out of second place.
It would be another close game, in which Dixie kept the BYU-H lead within three points the entire game. Another double-double, 10 points, 15 rebounds, from Mann kept the Storm within striking distance, but costly turnovers and empty possessions were too much for DSU to overcome.
“We feel like we are taking poor shots and making crucial turnovers down the stretch.” Mann said.
Interim head coach Jenny Thigpen also believes the team is making crucial mistakes late in games.
“We really need to dig down in the last four minutes of the game,” Thigpen said. “A better shot selection and less turnovers from us would limit their fast break opportunities in the final minutes.”
The 76-66 loss dropped the Storm to 5-9 overall and 4-4 in the PacWest.
The Storm has a whole week off before facing Azusa Pacific (8-5) on Saturday, and California Baptist (12-2) Monday, both at home.