FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – The Southern Utah Thunderbirds tipped off Big Sky Conference basketball with a 93-80 victory over rival Northern Arizona as both Randy Onwuasor and James McGee posted career-highs.
Onwuasor finished the game with 37 points after shooting 12-23 from the field and 7-12 from beyond the arch. McGee finished 9-13 from the field and 6-8 from the 3-point line.
Along with setting a handful of individual records, the Thunderbirds set a new program 3-point record with 16 threes.
"This was a great team win for us. Everyone contributed positively and did their jobs,” McGee said. “We are finally starting to click, and we are starting to understand that the hard work we put in pays off for us.”
Onwuasor finished with a double-double, 37 points and 12 rebounds. John Marshall led the Thunderbirds in assists with six. As a team, the Thunderbirds out-rebounded the Lumberjacks, 41-30.
“Incredibly proud of our team’s effort. We wanted to win the rebounding battle and play with great tempo; We felt like we achieved both of those goals—especially with winning the rebounding battle,” head coach Todd Simon said. “We set a program 3-point record, which is a testament to running the floor and creating shots for each other.”
The Thunderbirds exploded for a 17-5 lead to begin the game before the Lumberjacks battled back to force a 10-point gap at 33-23 with 5:33 to play in the first half. NAU rallied to round out the opening half, forcing a five-point game at 45-40 in favor of SUU at halftime.
The Lumberjack streak continued in the second half as NAU captured its first lead of the game at 57-56 just five minutes into the final half. A seven-point Thunderbird rally put the Thunderbirds back in the lead, which they extended to finish the game with a 13-point victory, 93-80.
The Thunderbirds are back in action on the road next week as they face Northern Colorado on Jan. 5 and North Dakota on Jan. 7.
“We are looking forward into getting back, focusing on the next game, and continuing to play the way we know how to play," McGee said.
Keep up with Thunderbird basketball by following @SUUBasketball on Twitter and Instagram along with liking SUU Basketball on Facebook.