Thunderbirds Hit Back-to-Back Shots in Final Minute to Seal Win
By SUU Strategic Communication
GREELEY, Colo. – The Thunderbirds pulled together in the final minutes of their match-up with the Bears, as Matt Johnson and Randy Onwuasor both hit big shots in the final seconds to seal a 78-76 victory over Northern Colorado and extend SUU’s Big Sky Conference record to 2-0.
“We had a great team win with a lot of effort tonight. We weren’t always on offensively and calls didn’t always go our way, but we had a ‘next play’ mentality,” Onwuasor said. “Player of the game was definitely Matt Johnson. He hit some big time shots for us.”
Onwuasor led the Thunderbirds with 32 points as Matt Johnson added a career-high 12 and James McGee chipped in 10.
John Marshall led the Thunderbirds in steals and assists with five each.
“Extremely proud of our guys for winning a big one on the road against a tough Northern Colorado team,” head coach Todd Simon said. “The guys executed offensively, trusted each other, and made winning plays down the stretch.”
Southern Utah opened the game with an 8-3 lead before a 22-6 Bear rally put Northern Colorado ahead, 25-14. The Thunderbirds fought from behind to knot the game at 25-25 before the Bears pulled ahead for a tight 41-39 lead at halftime.
The Bears launched the second half by extending their lead to 49-39 before a Thunderbird scoring spree, which was topped off by a McGee three and back-to-back Onwuasor buckets, tied the game at 54-54.
The battle knotted again at 57, 59, and 70 before the Bears spread their lead to 76-73 lead with under a minute to play. Johnson hit a clutch three with :46 to play, tying the game at 76’s before a defensive stop and an Onwuasor jumper with just two seconds to play closed the game for a Thunderbird win at 78-76.
“Randy Onwuasor made a huge game winner and Matt Johnson stepped in and had 12 big points,” Simon said. “We are excited about two big road wins to begin league play.”
The Thunderbirds continue Big Sky basketball on the road as they take on North Dakota on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 3:00 p.m.
Keep up with Thunderbird action by following @SUUBasketball on Twitter and Instagram along with liking SUU Basketball on Facebook.