Utah Tech
Emily Isaacson led the WAC in made 3-pointers in 2021-22. Courtesy Utah Tech Athletics.

Issacson, Kartchner look to Take Utah Tech on Big Move Forward in 2022-23

It’s been a wild ride in the Division I era for the Utah Tech women’s basketball team. In its first season, Utah Tech played just three games. The school suspended all women’s basketball competition on Jan. 5 due to the ‘overall health and wellness of the student-athletes and program in mind.’

In fact, in its first season at the Division I level, Utah Tech played just three games. Five of their eight non-conference games were cancelled due to COVID.

This means that 2021-22 was the first full season at the Division I level for the Trailblazers.

In its first full season of NCAA Division I play, the Utah Tech (then Dixie State) women’s basketball team held their own during Western Athletic Conference play. The Trailblazers were 6-12. But there were opportunities to increase that win total.

The Trailblazers posted a 4-7 record in WAC games decided by 10 points or less in 2021-22. This includes a triple overtime loss to New Mexico State and an overtime loss at Burns Arena against Sam Houston.

As they embark on year two, look for one of the WAC’s top 3-point shooters and a prep star who transferred over from BYU to lead them forward in a loaded conference. The Trailblazers are now eligible for the WAC Tournament in year three of the four-year transition period. So, there is a lot more at stake for the Trailblazers in 2022-23. Now they know they have something to play for rather than knowing exactly when their season ends.

And this returner and newcomer in Emily Isaacson and Amber Kartchner are going to play big roles in determining when the 2022-23 season ends.

Returner to Watch:

Emily Isaacson  5-11, RS-JR, Perry, Utah

Last year, Isaacson was fourth in WAC 3- point shooting percentage at 41.1 percent. Isaacson also averaged 13.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game in just under 35 minutes of work. The redshirt junior knocked down a team-high 88 3-pointers, which also led the WAC.

Her season-high was 25 points on a pair of occasions. In the Trailblazers first WAC game in program history, Isaacson went for 25 points at Tarleton on Dec. 30.  And in that triple overtime loss to New Mexico State, Isaacson tied her season-high with another 25-point performance.

With the graduation of leading scorer Shanaijah Davidson, head coach JD Gustin will rely on Isaacson to pick up some of that lost scoring. Isaacson finished the year with four of her final six games in double digit scoring and had a stretch from mid-January to early February where she scored in double digits six straight times.

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Newcomer to Watch:

Amber Kartchner  5-9, RS-FR, G (Transfer from BYU)

Kartchner comes to Utah Tech after a redshirt year at BYU. As a high school player, Kartchner had an incredible career, earning four UHSAA All-State selections and finishing sixth in the Utah State scoring ranks.

The Logan, Utah native scored 1,717 points in her high school career playing for the Logan Grizzlies. Break that down and it amounts to 18.4 points per game.

Kartchner also led Logan to a region title and state runner-up finish as a senior. If that’s not impressive enough, Kartchner was also Region MVP and Herald Journal Player of the Year as a freshman and sophomore at Logan High.

She made 93 career starts in four seasons and was also nominated to the McDonald’s All-American team.

Prior to the transfer of Kartchner one wouldn’t have gone out on too far of a limb by saying the Trailblazers had one of the WAC’s better guard lines and her transfer only adds to that depth.


About the author

Derryl Trujillo

Derryl Trujillo is a Southern California based sportswriter who won the 2019 Inland Empire Baseball Coaches Association's Supporter of the Year award. He joined the WAC Hoops Digest staff in 2020 and also covers local sports for Inland Sports and the Valley News. Before transitioning to media Derryl was a high school, collegiate and club volleyball official along with serving as a high school basketball scorekeeper for ten years.

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