Adversity struck in a big way for the Dixie State University women’s basketball team this week when the Trailblazers lost three games and three key players.
DSU played against Dominican University of California Jan. 11, at Point Loma Nazarene University on Saturday and at Concordia University-Irvine Monday. All three games resulted in losses for the Trailblazers and all three games were without its two tallest players: junior forward Lisa VanCampen and junior center Ashlee Burge. Also out was freshman guard Kili Franks.
These injuries made DSU’s most recent three game stretch of Pacific West Conference games much more difficult.
“Being down three players didn’t help,” assistant coach Brennon Schweikart said. “But there is no room for excuses. We have a next-man-up mentality and we have to stay together as a team.”
Against DUC, the Trailblazers trailed by as many as eight points early on in the second quarter, but thanks to a strong finish by junior guard Matti Ventling and a couple of 3-pointers by freshman guard Jaden Gonzales, DSU held a 33-31 lead at half time.
The Penguins regained momentum and the lead by scoring 10 of the first 11 points of the quarter. Down seven, DSU outscored DUC 17-9 the remainder of the quarter to take a 51-50 lead entering the fourth quarter.
DUC then went on a dismantling 15-3 run to start the quarter and the lead proved to be insurmountable as DSU fell 63-72.
DSU then traveled to play at PLNU Saturday. The Trailblazers started fast, building a 9-2 lead thanks to a couple of 3-pointers from Ventling. The Sea Lions answered back with a run of their own to end the first quarter up 15-13.
Three minutes into the second quarter DSU was down one, but the game was promptly blown open by PLNU by way of a 23-5 run to close out what was once a promising first half.
Another big run by the Sea Lions put them up 66-33 midway through the third. By the end of the fourth quarter, the Trailblazers were defeated, 80-47. DSU only shot six free-throws and were out-rebounded 42-27.
“Obviously it is a challenge to have three players out like this,” said Gonzales, an exercise science major from Plainview, Texas. “We had to play differently defensively, and losing height like that changes the way we play.”
The final game of the week was at CUI, a team that DSU anticipated would apply some full-court pressure.
The Eagles jumped on the Trailblazers early, doubling up on DSU 26-13 after the first quarter. DSU kept it relatively close during the second quarter, but turnovers and missed shots plagued the Trailblazers all night.
“Our plan was to break their trap and help each other get good shots,” said Ventling, a criminal justice major from Las Vegas. “We played hard, and we got the shots we wanted, but they just didn’t go in.”
DSU shot 35 percent from the field, but only 29 percent from beyond the arc. The Trailblazers also had 17 turnovers.
Ultimately DSU lost 56-77, finishing the tough three-game stretch having lost all three games while being out-rebounded by an average of over 10 rebounds per game.
“Despite the scores of the games, we felt there were plenty of bright spots this week,” Schweikart said. “We are continuing to become a more cohesive unit, and we are still learning that winning college basketball games is tough.”
At 2-9 in PacWest play, DSU plays Saturday against Azusa Pacific University at Burns Arena at 5 p.m.