Sac State Cools Off T-Bird Men
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 7 - Jackson Stevenett posted his second double-double of the season with 24 points and 12 rebounds but Southern Utah struggled on the offensive end at the beginning of the game, then after coming back struggled to score midway through the second half Monday night, enabling Sacramento State to end the Thunderbirds' three-game Big Sky winning streak with a 64-59 win. SUU dipped to 5-8 overall and 3-1 in Big Sky play while Sacramento State improved to 7-5 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
After shooting their best percentage of the season in a 90-77 win at Northern Arizona on Saturday (.568) the Thunderbirds dipped to 32.2 percent on Monday night.
SUU was within one, at 41-40 after a Jayson Cheesman dunk with 9:32 to play, but turned the ball over three times and missed a shot on the next four possessions. Meanwhile Sacramento State scored on each possession to change the one-point edge into a 52-40 game with 5:20 to go.
The Thunderbirds battled back, pulling within five with 48 seconds to go but could get no closer than 63-59 with eight seconds to play.
SUU gave up two free points before the game started because of a technical foul for dunking in pre-game warmups, and then missed their first seven shots, to find itself down 12-0 before Jackson Stevenett finally got them on the board with a jumper at the 13:10 mark.
SUU fell behind by as many as 16, at 22-6, before finally making a run, pulling within 24-20 after a Stevenett tip-in at the 5:26 mark. Stevenett started the run with a layup, and after 3-pointers by Wade Collie and Damon Heuir, a Jayson Cheesman dunk, two Stevenett free throws and the tip in the Thunderbirds were back within four.
Sacramento State scored the next three points but the Thunderbirds got two free throws each from Heuir (after a technical foul on SAC's John Dickson) and Cheesman to pull within three, and after A.J. Hess grabbed a rebound on the defensive end Stevenett hit another jumper to pull the Thunderbirds within 27-26. Hess followed that basket with a steal and SUU had an opportunity to take the lead but Cheesman missed inside and Joe Eberhard got the rebound for Sacramento, was fouled, and hit two free throws to give the Hornets at 29-26 advantage at halftime.
"Sacramento State did a nice job of controlling tempo throught the game and they were more physical than us," SUU Coach Nick Robinson said. "They won the battle of the boards, and were able to get to the free throw line with their aggressiveness, so you've got to give them a lot of credit.
"They did a good job of taking us out of some of our sets, in terms of execution. Jackson had a nice game until the very end, he was aggressive throughout, he had a nice game but we've got to have other guys step up. Damon played well again but his seven turnovers were a little frustrating for us today.
"IN the second half we had good looks, both in the post and on the perimeter, but the shots just didn't go down for us," Robinson added.
NOTES: Cheesman moved into 10th place on SUU's single-season blocks list; his three rejections on the night gave him 31 on the season to move him past Norman Adams, who blocked 30 during the 1981-82 season ... Sacramento State shot 55 free throws but was able to convert just 29 of them while the Thunderbirds went to the line 21 times, making 15 ... SUU was out-rebounded, 41-38, breaking an eight game stretch of coming out on top of the rebounding battle.