The Dixie State University men’s basketball team came up empty in California, losing its first two games of the season.
The Trailblazers began the 2016-17 campaign on the road in La Jolla, California, Friday against University of California San Diego and Saturday against California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
In both games, DSU fell behind early, and despite making it close at the end, could never get over the hump and tally a win.
“There are always some growing pains to start the season,” said head coach Jon Judkins. “We had a lot of lapses defensively and could never gain momentum on the offensive end.”
The Trailblazers came out slow against UCSD, missing 11 of its first 12 shots and committing costly turnovers. The Tritons led by as many as 18 in the first before DSU cut it to 41-28 at the half.
Though the second half was an improvement, DSU never gained enough momentum or stops to put themselves in position to win. Junior guard Trevor Hill soared in for a dunk with under two minutes left to trim the deficit to three, but failed to score for the remainder of the game, losing 62-55.
“[Against UCSD] we came out flat and we weren’t very focused,” said junior guard Brandon Simister, a biology major from St. George. “We need to get more stops and work on being on the same page.”
Against CPP, DSU came out of the gate slowly like they did against UCSD, but this time the Trailblazers were able to close the gap in the first half. DSU cut a 14-point first half deficit to three, trailing 40-37 at intermission.
DSU led for the first time all season 46-44, early in the second half, but could not maintain it. The Broncos retook the lead and did not look back. Simister hit five 3-pointers, a career high, in an effort to keep the contest close.
Sophomore forward Quincy Mathews chipped in a career high 15 points and DSU nearly doubled its shooting percentage Saturday with 46 percent from Friday nights loss which was 27 percent.
The Broncos put the game away with free throws, however, and DSU lost 82-74..
“We found out a lot about our team [this weekend],” said Hill, a business administration major from Sandy. “We got a lot of fight, but we need to improve our intensity and finish plays.”
Moving forward, coaches and players said the team needs to start faster and finish stronger. With more tough road games on the horizon those two components will prove imperative.
“We need to improve our start to each game,” said Mathews, a general studies major from St. George. “We played better in the second game, but we just need to work on our defensive rotations and getting a good start to our upcoming games.”
Seeking its first win of the season, DSU will participate in the Seattle Pacific Tourament Friday against Central Washington University.