UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | April 17, 2024

Azusa loss motivates Red Storm to win against GCU

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One loss to Azusa Pacific University brought the women yearning for a comeback win Saturday on the road against Grand Canyon University.

Although junior forward Johnna Brown had her ninth double-double Saturday night, the Dixie State College women’s basketball team still fell short 62-73 to Azusa Pacific. Dixie held the Cougars’ shooting percentage at 33.8 percent from the field, but the Storm’s turnovers and rebounds are what caused the women to trail 40 minutes of the game.

“It could have gone a little better than it did, obviously,” said sophomore guard Kaylah Miller, a communication major from San Diego. “We came up a little short, but I do feel like this week of practice is going to improve us from the game.”

Miller said the team will either bounce back from the loss or fall, and she thinks the team is more than likely to bounce back against Grand Canyon.

“When we play Grand Canyon… the intensity of practice the week before we play is extremely different than a normal week,” Miller said. “We work harder, (and) we try to get down to the little things in practice.”

The Red Storm lost in double overtime 71-73 the last time it faced GCU on Jan. 10. This was its first conference loss of the season even though the Red Storm outshot the Antelopes 43.3 percent to 35.8 percent.

Brown led the team with 28 points and 16 rebounds. She had a double-double by halftime, but more players needed to assist the team to victory.

Senior center Becca Thomas, a communication major from Riverside Calif., said even though the team lost 62-73 to Azusa Pacific Saturday, it has given the women the motivation to come out on top in the game against Grand Canyon.

“I expect us to come back eager to win, especially after the [Azusa] loss,” Thomas said.

Thomas said the team is still looking for conference success with the overall record of 8-9.

“I wish our record was better, but we’re still OK and we can still move forward and hopefully get a good place in the conference tournament,” Thomas said.

The Red Storm suffered a tough loss on Jan. 10 taking Grand Canyon to double overtime. The team is hoping to fight again and move forward from the Azusa loss.

“[GCU is] our rival—we always want to beat them, and they always want to beat us,” Miller said. “So I feel like the preparation isn’t different than other games, but the players step up because they know how big of a game it is.”

Thomas said the season is different not just because of the obvious coaching change, but because of the way head coach Derek Dawes coaches. She said coach Angela Kristensen was more intense, while Dawes is more calm and relaxed.

“I like it,” Thomas said. “He’s doing a great job and I think the coaches are working together to make sure we’re OK from losing our coach and…moving forward.”

Miller said it’s been a hard change, but the team is looking ahead.

“It’s definitely been a roller coaster, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle,” Miller said. “All we can do is play for each other now and respect each other and just play with heart. It’s still a game of basketball no matter what happens.”

Miller also said Dawes is a positive change to the program.

“[Dawes is] a great guy,” Miller said. “He’s the nicest, sweetest person I’ve ever met. He respects us, and he knows his job. He came in here willingly to…support our program and do the best he can, and I think he’s doing really great things.”

The team is focused on the fundamentals of defense, rebounds and communication this week for the game this Saturday in Phoenix against GCU at 2 p.m.