Trailblazers fall short in basketball battle against Texans

The men’s basketball team took a loss in the game against Tarleton State University Feb. 29. The Trailblazers are away this week playing against The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley March 7 and Stephen F. Austin March 9. Miki Akiyama | Sun News Daily

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Utah Tech University’s attempted comeback was not enough against Tarleton State University Feb. 29, impacting the men’s basketball teams’ hopes of making it to the Western Athletic Conference tournament.

Tarleton started the game on a 17-2 run in the opening five minutes of the game. Utah Tech started the game with several turnovers and missed shots.

Unisa Turay, a junior recreation and sports management major from Phoenix, said, “We came out with a little bit of low energy and bad body language.”

Turay said he didn’t know why they came out so poorly, but it was just one of those types of days. 

After the slow start, the Trailblazers were able to find some rhythm as they started making their shots and communicating, but Utah Tech was unable to get out of its own way. Tarleton had 17 points off of Utah Tech turnovers in the first half alone. 

Tarleton was able to answer every time the Trailblazers tried to make the game close. The Texans went into the half up 49-30, and adding to the Trailblazers’ struggles, head coach Jon Judkins got a technical foul going into halftime for yelling at the refs while he went into the tunnel.

Coming out of the half, Tarleton made the two foul shots they were given from Judkins’ foul and started the second half up 21 points. 

Utah Tech attempted a comeback in the second half. They were never able to take the lead from Tarleton, but they were able to get just five points away from Tarleton at two different points in the second half. However, the Trailblazers were unable to pull off the comeback. Utah Tech outscored Tarleton 44-36 in the second half, but it was not enough. 

Utah Tech ended up losing with the final score of the game being 74-85.

Judkins said: “It’s hard to get down by 20 and fight back that hard. After, you are kind of just out of gas.”

Tennessee Rainwater, a freshman management major from Davenport, Washington, said Utah Tech has been close and competed with the best teams in the conference this season. The team was close at several points in their recent game against Grand Canyon University. He said the game against the Texans was no different, but they were not able to find a way to win.  

The Trailblazers’ hopes of making the WAC tournament are not over with three games left in the regular season. Their hope is in jeopardy though.

Judkins said, “If we want to get to the [WAC] tournament, we need to win out.” 

Judkins said the season is all about the tournament. The team plays the entire season to get to the WAC tournament. The tournament would help the younger players get experience in big games.

Last year, the men’s WAC tournament had 12 teams make it into the tournament, but this year, only eight teams make the tournament. Judkins said he is not a fan of the new model. He still wishes 12 teams made the tournament.

The next game is March 2 at 7 p.m. against Abilene Christian University. 

“It is a really big game,” Judkins said. “We need to get people here. It is the biggest game of our season Saturday night.”