Two years ago, the Utah Tech women’s basketball team only played three games before their season was cancelled due to COVID related issues. That cancellation made last year the first full year of competition at the Division I level for the Trailblazers.
Now, moving into their second actual year of competition, head coach JD Gustin’s squad looks to build off of a competitive 10-win season.
Much like the men’s program, the Utah Tech women’s squad has a slew of veteran returners for the upcoming season.
Although they will be without last year’s leading scorer Shanaijah Davison, the veteran leadership will be a huge advantage for the Trailblazers.
Gustin returns four of five starters from last year’s squad. At the helm will be senior guard Breaunna Gillen and redshirt junior forward Emily Isaacson. Gillen was second in scoring through the 2021-22 season, averaging 15.2 PPG which was good enough to land her as the third highest scorer in the conference.
Gillen also finished in the top three of the conference leaderboard as the conference’s number two APG (5.4) and assist-TO ratio (1.9).
Isaacson found herself in the WAC top-10 in six different categories. Her 88 made 3-pointers put her atop the conference. She also finished with the fifth best 3-point percentage (.411). Her seven rebounds per game was good enough for fifth and her 31 blocks put her at sixth in the conference.
Now sophomores, Macie Warren and Avery Papa look to build upon impressive freshman campaigns. Warren finished the year averaging 7.0 points per game. Now with a year under her belt, I expect Warren to be a big time scoring factor for Gustin and the Trailblazers.
Papa finished the season ranked 12th in the conference blocked shots. Like Warren, with a year of experience and a summer of development, Papa will be a tough matchup for opponents across the conference.
The returning bench might be the biggest strength the Trailblazers have. Maggie McCord was the conference’s most efficient 3-point shooter (46%) last season and will certainly only improve this season. Brooke Vance provides solid minutes while Papa is sidelined. Talia Sireni and Taylia Stimpson, who each transferred to UT from big time programs last year, bring experienced, smart basketball to Gustin’s squad.
By far the most exciting newcomer for the Trailblazers is redshirt freshman, BYU transfer Amber Kartchner. As a senior, Kartchner was named Utah’s 4A MVP, defensive MVP, Region MVP and the Herald Journal POY. She was also a McDonald’s All-American nominee and was named the 2021 All-Valley Female Athlete of the Year.
The Deaver twins, Catelyn and Alyson were the driving factor in Sumner High School’s (Sumner, Washington) state-runner up finish. Both sisters averaged double digit points and bring an athletic presence to an already strong front court.
The Trailblazers also added Tumwater High School (Tumwater, Washington) guard Aubrey Amendala. Amendala helped lead her squad to an impressive 25-3 mark in the 2019-20 season. And in a condensed 2020-21, season she averaged 16 points, five rebounds, six assists and four steals per game.
I am incredibly excited for this upcoming season for Utah Tech Women’s basketball. With a true year of experience under their belts, I expect huge growth off of last year’s competitiveness. Veteran leadership is going to be a massive strength for this squad. The newcomers bring insane talent and will only make Coach Gustin’s squad that much more competitive.