Taylor Moeaki hit a 13-foot jumper with 4.3 seconds to play to help lift Dixie State’s women’s basketball team to a thrilling 64-62 come-from-behind victory over in-state rival Westminster College on Friday afternoon in the Burns Arena. The win, DSU’s third straight and fourth in the last five games overall, moved the Trailblazers to 4-2 on the season, while the Griffins dropped to 1-3.
Dixie State fell into an early first-quarter hole as the Griffins began the game with a 16-5 run on their way to a 24-18 lead after the opening 10 minutes. However, the Trailblazers locked Westminster down the next two periods, outscoring the Griffins, 33-20, while holding them to just 30.7 percent (8-of-26) shooting to flip the score in their favor at 51-44 heading into the fourth quarter.
DSU methodically chipped away at the deficit in the second period and closed the gap to 35-32 at the halftime break after an Ali Franks steal and lay-in. The Trailblazers then opened the third frame with an 11-2 run, including seven quick points from Maile Richardson and another four from Moeaki, and extended to a 51-42 advantage after a Matti Ventling 3-pointer late in the stanza.
The Griffins responded with a 12-2 spurt, scoring the final two points of the third quarter and 10 of the first 12 of the fourth, to reclaim the lead at 54-53 following a Denise Gonzalez trey with 7:21 to play.
Dixie State trailed 59-58 with 1:29 remaining with a chance to reclaim the lead at the foul line, but the Trailblazers could not convert on either charity toss. However, Kristin Baldwin managed to battle inside to clear the rebound and lay in the go-ahead bucket to put DSU up a point at 60-59.
Westminster regained the lead on its ensuing possession on a Sydnee Taylor 3-pointer, but Moeaki answered on DSU’s next trip down the court with a jumper to knot the score at 62-62. The Trailblazers then got a crucial defensive stop to regain possession with a chance to win it in regulation.
Following a DSU timeout, Moeaki pulled up for a shot from the left elbow that caromed long off the iron back to the freshman guard, who then floated in the go-ahead jumper to put her side up by two. Westminster had one more shot to tie or take the lead, but Taylor’s try bounced off the rim and Baldwin pulled down the rebound to secure the win.
“Our plan was to create tempo. We play contrasting styles with Westminster, but they [beat us] in the first quarter playing our own style,” DSU head coach JD Gustin said. “We had to back off of that a little bit and that got us back into the game. Credit to [Westminster]. They got every 50-50 ball. They were flying around and they made a ton of effort plays where we didn’t necessarily.
“We feel very fortunate that we were able to win. We had a couple players make big plays down the stretch and we’re thankful for it.”
Baldwin posted her second-straight double-double with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds to pace DSU, while Franks notched her first of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds to go along with a team-high five assists off the bench. Moeaki finished with 10 points, and Keslee Stevenson tallied nine points on three 3-pointers in 18 reserve minutes as the Trailblazer bench outscored the Griffin reserves by a 29-8 count.
DSU shot 38.1 percent (24-of-63) from the floor but was just 8-of-31 (.258) from the perimeter to go along with an 8-of-14 day (.571) at the foul line. However, the Trailblazers limited Westminster to 40.0 percent shooting (24-of-60) for the game, including at 34.8 clip from the second quarter on, and outrebounded the Griffins by a 47-31 count (13-3 offensively).
Gonzalez led all scorers with 17 points, while Taylor poured in 13 points with seven assists and four steals.
Dixie State closes out its 2017-18 non-conference slate in Orem at in-state foe Utah Valley on Tuesday, Nov. 28, at 7 p.m. The Trailblazers then return home to the Burns Arena to open their final season of Pacific West Conference play Saturday, Dec. 2, against Academy of Art at 1:30 p.m.
Steve Johnson is the Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations and Collegiate Licensing at Dixie State University. For more DSU Athletics news, please visit www.dixieathletics.com and follow Dixie State on Twitter at @DixieAthletics.