It was a week of firsts for the Dixie State University women’s basketball team beating Brigham Young University-Hawaii and Chaminade University to secure its first winning streak this season.
Not only did DSU win consecutive games for the first time this season, but also the Trailblazers also won at home for the first time this season.
“We are so happy about how this week went for us,” assistant coach Nicole Yazzie said. “[These wins] were huge for [DSU] basketball. The way our girls were able to close these games was a big step.”
In both games, DSU held leads late in the game and had to withstand opponents rallies to secure victory. The 2016-17 campaign has been maligned with single digit defeats, a product of the inability of the Trailblazers to closeout the opponent with the game on the line.
Despite the variety of losses, the DSU coaching staff has continued to preach trust and hard work to the players. This week, the preaching paid off.
DSU held off BYU-Hawaii 67-61 Thursday. After leading much of the game, DSU sealed the victory thanks to heroics from junior guard Matti Ventling. DSU then beat Chaminade University Saturday in a game that was highlighted with pink, representing cancer awareness.
Despite shooting only 25 percent in the first quarter, the Trailblazers held a 12-10 lead over the Seasiders.
The second quarter played out much like the first quarter as DSU maintained a two-point leading heading into halftime.
After building a six-point lead, its largest of the game, DSU saw BYU-Hawaii trim the lead to 43-42 with just one quarter left to play.
The game continued to go back-and-forth until it was 60-59 with just over a minute to play. Ventling broke the hearts of the Seasiders with dagger from deep, part of her 15-point, 10-rebound night. After a defensive stop and some free-throws, DSU celebrated its first home-triumph of the season.
Looking to build off its big win over BYU-Hawaii, the Trailblazers jumped on Chaminade University 24-16 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a couple of triples from redshirt sophomore guard Tramina Jordan.
Freshman forward Ali Franks led the way in the second quarter with nine points heading into intermission. DSU led 37-31.
An 8-2 run midway through the fourth quarter had DSU up 49-39. Unable to extend the lead, CU went on a 16-3 run before head coach JD Gustin called a timeout to stop the bleeding.
DSU battled back to take a 61-60 lead thanks to a deep 3-pointer from junior guard Gabrielle Cabanero. After going 1-2 at the line with under 10 seconds to go, DSU fouled a CU player with two seconds left. Clutch free throws sent the game into overtime.
After going 0-7 on triples in regulation, Ventling buried two big 3-pointers in overtime to help DSU build an ultimately insurmountable lead.
“Our coaches brought us together before overtime and told us to trust each other and play like we know how to play,” said Ventling, a biology major from Las Vegas. “At the beginning of the season we were not experienced enough to win [games] like this, so now we have what it takes to [win these games].”
DSU held on to beat CU 76-74, securing its first winning streak all season.
“We were all playing for something special tonight,” said Franks, an exercise science major from Redding, California. “Because it was for cancer awareness, we had extra motivation to go out there and come out on top.”
At 4-11 in Pacific West Conference play, DSU hosts California Baptist University Saturday at 5 p.m.