The Dixie State women’s basketball team led wire-to-wire and earned its first home win of the season on Sunday, defeating Montana State-Northern, 77-66, inside the Burns Arena.
The Trailblazers (2-2) used a fast start and a stingy defensive effort to secure the win, forcing 22 MSUN turnovers while logging a season-high 15 steals and nine blocks en route to the victory.
Dixie State raced to an 8-0 lead in the first quarter, capitalizing on six MSU-Northern misses to build the early advantage. Taylor Moeaki led the charge, scoring inside the paint on each end of the eight-point run. MSUN countered with a 5-0 spurt to cut the lead to 8-5, but Ali Franks canned a 3-pointer and converted a pair of free throws to help push the lead to 15-5 at the 2:22 mark. The teams went back and forth in the final two minutes before Maile Richardson beat the first-quarter buzzer with a jumper to give the home squad a 22-11 advantage.
“I was really happy with the way we started the game today,” head coach JD Gustin said. “We’ve struggled in the first quarter this season. We really challenged the team to do better, so the 22-11 lead was a big deal for us.”
MSU-Northern regrouped in the second quarter and quickly cut the lead back to single digits at 24-18 at the 7:44 mark. Mariah Martin helped slow the MSUN run with a triple on the next possession to stretch the lead back to 27-18, but the Skylights countered with an 8-3 run to pull within four points at 30-26 with 3:23 remaining until the halftime break. DSU responded with a pair of Moeaki free throws and a Tramina Jordan trey to keep the Trailblazers in front at 37-31 at the intermission.
Dixie State maintained its advantage during the third quarter, but the game continued to seesaw as the teams traded baskets throughout the period. The Trailblazers extended the lead to nine points when Franks buried a 3-pointer, and later when Moeaki converted a layup, but the Skylights answered each DSU field goal. Franks closed the third quarter scoring with a pair of free throws to give the hosts a 57-49 lead.
The fourth quarter seemed like a carbon copy of the third quarter until Franks connected on her third trey of the game to push the lead back to double digits at 66-55 with 4:39 remaining. DSU did not relinquish its double-digit lead from there as Franks and Jordan added a layup, while a Morgan Myers steal led to a three-point play by Moeaki to clinch the 77-66 victory.
Dixie State shot 43 percent (28-of-64) from the field, 22 percent (5-of-22) from beyond the arc and 80 percent (16-of-20) from the free-throw line. Defensively, the nine DSU blocks marked the most blocks in a single game since a home win over BYU-Hawaii during the 2012-13 season.
“Our rim-protect defense was really good today,” Gustin said. “We were trying to pressure their guards to make them uncomfortable, and we needed that protection around the rim. Kristin [Baldwin] and Ashlee [Burge] were great inside the paint today.”
Franks tied a career-high mark with 19 points and three rebounds, while Moeaki added a career-high 18 points. Kristin Baldwin turned in a solid performance, logging eight points, seven rebounds and six blocks, while Ashlee Burge contributed seven points and six rebounds. Myers was a force defensively, recording five steals and a block to go with two points and an assist.
The Trailblazers continue their four-game homestand on Tuesday, hosting Antelope Valley inside the Burns Arena at 4 p.m.
Keric Seegmiller is Assistant Coordinator of Media Relations at Dixie State University and the Voice of Trailblazer Athletics. Contact him at [email protected].