Southern Utah University women’s basketball beat Dixie State University in the team’s first Division I match up Monday, 80-44.
The T-Birds led by 18 at the end of the first half and refused to let the Trailblazers come any closer from that point on due to hot shooting and sound defense.
Guard Madelyn Eaton dropped 15 points while pulling down five rebounds. Forward Darri Frandsen scored the first seven points for the T-Birds on her way to scoring 15 for the night. Frandsen went 2-of-2 from downtown and pulled down seven boards.
Dixie State couldn’t find the bottom of the net all night, shooting just 24% from the field and 65% from the free-throw line. The Trailblazers were led in scoring by guard Breaunna Gillen with nine points. Emily Isaacson scored five while pulling down six boards.
SUU led for 39 of the 40 minutes and dominated the rebounding battle 51 to 32. The offense was clicking as they shot 44% from the field and 44% from 3-point range. The Thunderbirds dominated defensively as well, forcing DSU to commit 17 turnovers.
“We wanted to come out and start strong, and I feel we were able to accomplish that by getting good looks early,” Frandsen said.
The game was largely out of reach at the end of the first half. Nonetheless, head coach Tracy Sanders started the second half in a full-court press designed to slow the Trailblazers’ offense. The trap was performed to perfection as SUU’s pressure dropped DSU’s shooting percentage down to just 24%.
The press worked to Sanders’ intentions as the Trailblazers were only able to put up 25 shots in the second half, 10 less than the T-Birds.
“That trap is more about setting the tempo than trapping,” Sanders said. “We have some line ups that will be a little more risky where we can trap a little more but it’s designed to slow play.”
SUU’s stifling defense and well-executed offense allowed Sanders to empty the bench late in the first half.
“I wanted everyone to get a chance to play,” said Sanders. “We have a full team right now and I think we have some capable people and getting them floor experience is always great.”
SUU takes the first Division I contest between the two teams. With a potential conference change looming in the future, these teams are likely to see much more of each other. For SUU, they had motivation to come out on top in this game.
“We all knew how important this game was,” Eaton said. “It was important to show who the best team was in Southern Utah and I feel like we showed that tonight.”
The T-Birds will look to take this big win into conference play starting next week. For Sanders, the next 10 days are all about defense.
“For us, defense has gotten a lot better but we need to continue to key in on that,” Sanders said. “We also need to learn how other teams defend us on ball.”
Both Eaton and Frandsen agreed that defensive communication and rotation will be an important factor moving forward.
“In the past we haven’t been doing it right, so that’s a focus for us,” said Frandsen.
At 3-2, SUU heads into conference play with a winning record. The T-Birds will take on their first conference opponent, Montana State University, on Dec. 31 in Cedar City.
Story by: Kelton Jacobsen
Photo Courtesy of SUU Athletic Department Strategic Communications