ST. GEORGE — The No. 4-seeded Utah Tech women’s basketball team won’t play rival and No. 8 Southern Utah in the quarterfinals of the Hercules Tires WAC Tournament, but the Trailblazers will face No. 5 UT Arlington.

In this file photo, Utah Tech coach JD Gustin discusses strategy with the Trailblazers women’s basketball team, date and location not specified | Photo courtesy of Utah Tech Athletics, St. George News

The Trailblazers and Mavericks will tip off Thursday in Las Vegas at Orleans Arena at 1 p.m. MT. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.

Utah Tech potentially would have faced SUU for a third time this season, but the Thunderbirds lost Wednesday as UT Arlington used a strong inside game and SUU had an off-night shooting, the Mavericks emerging with a 67-53 victory (see details below).

Entering Thursday’s matchup, Utah Tech is 18-13 overall and 12-8 in WAC play. The 18 wins are the second-most for the Trailblazer program (19 wins last season) during head coach JD Gustin’s tenure and its current NCAA Division I transition, according to a Utah Tech news release. Meanwhile, the Blazers’ 12 WAC victories this season are the most since joining the conference in the 2020-21 season.

Utah Tech claimed a 72-60 road win at UT Arlington (16-15 overall)  on Feb. 3, followed up by an 88-69 home triumph three weeks later.

The Trailblazers are the only team in the WAC with three players listed in the conference’s top-10 in both scoring (3. Breaunna Gillen 16.9 ppg; 4. Maddie Warren 16.2; 8. Macie Warren 14.3 ppg) and field goal percentage (3. Macie Warren .492; 5. Gillen .466; 8. Maddie Warren .425).

Gillen was named first team all-WAC for the second-straight season on Monday. The fifth-year guard, who was voted as the 2023-24 WAC Preseason Player of the Year and was a two-time WAC Player of the Week honoree, finished the regular season as the conference’s third-leading scorer and led the WAC in assists (5.64 apg) for the second-consecutive season. 

Redshirt sophomore guard Maddie Warren collected second team all-WAC honors. She finished the regular season as the WAC’s fourth-leading scorer (16.16 ppg) and was ranked second in the conference in made 3-pointers (76) and eighth in field goal percentage (.425). 

Southern Utah’s Ava Uhrich drives toward the basket during the Thunderbirds’ loss to UT Arlington Wednesday in Las Vegas, Nevada, March 13, 2024 | Photo courtesy of Southern Utah University Athletics, St. George News

UT Arlington 67, Southern Utah 53

The Thunderbirds’ season came to a close with an opening-round loss in the WAC tournament. Alexa Lord led the way for SUU (8-22 overall) in her last game, recording a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Freshman Ava Uhrich added 11 points and five rebounds for SUU. And Samantha Johnston added five assists to go along with seven points, four rebounds, two blocks and one steal.

“I think it’s such a great experience to be here,” Thunderbirds coach Tracy Mason said in an SUU news release. “We obviously have some young players on our team and some people that haven’t been here or didn’t play much here last year. It’s a cool experience and it’s something to build on moving forward.”

The Thunderbirds won the WAC tournament in 2023 to qualify for the NCAA national tournament, losing in the first round to Notre Dame.