ST. GEORGE — Dixie State University men’s basketball team opened Western Athletic Conference play and fell to a short-handed Tarleton State team 83-69 on Thursday night.
“They were really trapping us, making it hard on our guards passing,” Dixie coach Jon Judkins told St. George News after the game. “They’ll see it tomorrow on film that if we can get out of that trap, we’ll get some wide-open shots but we just did not handle it and made too many turnovers.”
The visiting Texans were without five of their top players and two coaches due to injury or COVID cases. They were also sporting an 0-7 record on the road, with some close losses to good teams (Stanford, Kansas, Michigan, Gonzaga).
The Trailblazers, who reported no COVID-related issues and had a full roster, turned the ball over 14 times and shot 8-for-23 from the 3-point line.
“We knew that the 3-balls were open, we thought we could get more than we did,” Judkins said. “We thought we could drive and kick and get some open 3’s, and their defense tonight was a lot better than expected.”
Dixie fought back from a 15-point deficit in the first half to get within two at 59-57 with 7:02 left in the contest.
Junior Dancell Leter ran the floor for a dunk, then later converted a 3-point play for Dixie to get the game to its closest point.
Junior Cameron Gooden led all Trailblazers with 15 points and 8 rebounds in almost 30 minutes of play.
But the visitors from Stephenville, Texas were in control for the rest of the game, going on a 6-0 run to retake a big lead they never let go.
Tarleton State used exactly six players all game. Guard Freddy Hicks had the hot hand, leading all scorers with 27 points. Javontae Hopkins scored 18 for the Texans.
Hicks, Hopkins, Montre Gibson and Noah McDavid each played the entire 40 minutes of the contest for Tarleton State (6-8, 1-0 WAC).
The Trailblazers lost their second consecutive game and fell to 7-7 and 0-1 to open WAC play.
After the buzzer sounded, Judkins held his longest post-game talk of the season with the team.
“We tried a lot of things, I was happy with the effort,” Judkins said. “Tonight was better than it was against SUU. But give them a lot of credit, they made big plays when they had to.”
Two freshmen from Utah made an impact for Dixie State on Thursday night.
Noa Gonsalves, from Lehi, scored 11 points in almost 33 minutes of play against Tarleton State. The 6-foot-1 guard was named the TicketSmarter Western Athletic Conference Freshman of the Week earlier this year.
Gonsalves told St. George News after the game that he knew Dixie State was a good spot for him when he got recruited.
“I just loved the area, loved the coaches,” he said, adding that in high school he played against Dixie and Desert Hills several times.
“I know that they were good,” Gonsalves said. “I know guys on both those teams. It was fun.”
Trevon Allfrey, from West Jordan, made his presence known in almost 9 minutes of play against the Texans.
At 6 foot, 7 inches tall, and 240 pounds, Allfrey is an active big man that can spell relief for senior Hunter Schofield.
He matched 4 points to go with 4 rebounds before getting banged up in the second half.
“He played really hard that second half, I thought. He was in the game when we made the run,” coach Jon Judkins said about Allfrey. “He was posting hard, he was sealing guys, he rebounded.”
The Trailblazers will look for their first conference win on Saturday night when they host Abilene Christian at Burns Arena at 7 p.m.
Thunderbirds 64, Hornets 51
Southern Utah University awoke from a lackluster start and defeated Sacramento State 64-51 Thursday night at the America First Event Center in Cedar City.
The victory marked the 20th consecutive win at home for SUU and came after the T-Birds crushed Dixie State 87-59 on Dec. 22.
Tevian Jones led the T-Birds in scoring with 19 points. He also grabbed eight rebounds. SUU moved to 9-4 overall and remained unbeaten in Big Sky Conference action at 3-0.
SUU hosts Northern Colorado Saturday at 7 p.m.
Updated Dec. 31, 4 p.m., Information and photos have been added.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.