Dixie State University men’s basketball season has come to an end after losing in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament, but Trailblazer fans have been supportive throughout this year’s journey.
The average men’s basketball game at the Burns Arena had about 3,000 fans, according to ticket office records, with the Trailblazers only losing once at home the entire season.
“I think with the success we’ve been blessed to have this year it almost makes me feel like I’m playing for something bigger than just our basketball team,” said guard Brandon Simister, a senior biology major from St. George. “I really feel like I’m representing our university as a whole.”
Simister said he had professors and students wish the team luck for the leading up to the NCAA Division II tournament.
“I have had multiple professors ask when the games are and in class talk to me about the game,” Simister said. “[It] brings a neat kind of unity around the campus.”
DSU had not lost a game in 2018 before losing to Azusa Pacific University in the first round of the NCAA Division II tournament. Before that the last loss came at home on a 72-74 loss to Point Loma Nazarene University. During the season DSU had a 17-game win streak, including 10 straight wins on the road. The team’s last win was over California Baptist University in the Pacific West tournament championship game at CBU.
The PacWest tournament championship game was the third matchup this season between the top two teams of the conference: DSU and CBU. The Trailblazers were down 17 with a little under five minutes to play in the first half. DSU was able to cut the deficit to eight by halftime, and then went on to outscore CBU 38-28 in the second half, hanging on for the 66-64 win.
“We had over 1,300 unique views for the game [online],” said Jimmy Knodel, assistant Commissioner-Strategic Positioning for the PacWest. “[The game also had] over 1,600 fans in attendance.”
One of those online viewers was Kyle Cummings, a junior biology major from St. George, who has attended every home game this season.
During away games Cummings would either watch online or would follow the live updates on Twitter.
“I have quite a few good friends on the team,” Cummings said. “So it’s been an awesome experience to watch them work hard game to game and go on to win the championship.”
Even with the tournament being in California, Simister said quite a few family members of the players were able to make the trip. Simister was named PacWest tournament Most Valuable Player following the win over CBU.
While DSU did win the PacWest championship, its season ended before the team could take home the major win.
The Trailblazers were upset by APU 69-65 on March 9, putting an end to their season and 17-game winning streak. The team finishes the year with a school-record 23 wins and a 23-7 record.
The Trailblazers have now been named the regular season PacWest Champions five times, including PacWest tournament champions twice since the implementation of the tournament in the 2012-2013 season. In the team’s final season as members of the PacWest, DSU accomplished what the team set its mind to back in November and is walking away with the PacWest Championship trophy.
“We have worked extremely hard to achieve the goals we have set out for this year,” Simister said. “But understand without the community and university we couldn’t have gotten this far.”