Thunderbirds Open with 85-78 Win Over Arizona Christian
Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
Release: 11/08/2013
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CEDAR CITY, Utah, 11/8/13 – Southern Utah (1-0) opened the regular season with a 85-78 win over visiting Arizona Christian (1-0) Friday night. The Thunderbirds trailed at the break, but rallied behind 14 second half points from sophomore guard A.J. Hess, as well as a combined 36 bench points to come up with the victory.

“A.J. hit some big shots for us down the stretch, Cal and Jayson did a great job in the interior, we had a lot of contributions from our newcomers as well and guys coming off the bench. It was a great team effort,” stated SUU head coach Nick Robinson. “I was encouraged that we were able to come back in the second half and do a better job defensively and scoring more than they did.”

Jayson Cheesman scored a put-back layup to put the Thunderbirds out in front 2-0 in the game’s opening possession, but the Firestorm would pull ahead from there, building a 31-22 advantage on a 3-point basket from Brandon Newman in the closing minutes of the half and held a 40-35 lead at the intermission.

Southern Utah got another lay in from Cheesman to start the second half and a few moments later a basket for Cal Hanks would tip the score in the Thunderbirds favor at 43-42 with just under 17 minutes to play. Things remained close down the stretch, but SUU remained in control and put the game away with an 11-5 run in the closing minutes to pull ahead 85-75. Arizona Christian came up with another three in the final seconds to set the final margin at 85-78.

Hess finished with a game-high 17 points while shooting 5-9 from the field and 2-4 from behind the arc. One of his 3-point baskets turned into an important four-point play that gave the Thunderbirds some breathing room in the second half. All 11 players that saw time on the floor for SUU recorded a score including Chessman and Juwan Major who each had 12 points for the T-Birds.

“We had five guys in the double-figures, a couple of others that were close,” stated SUU head coach Nick Robinson. “I was really pleased with how we shot free throws tonight. 84.6 percent, that was definitely a team effort as we had multiple guys get to the free throw line.”

Southern Utah held a 36-35 edge on the glass and outscored the Firestorm by a count of 42-28 in the paint. The Thunderbirds shot over 45 percent from the field while Arizona Christian finished at 49.1 percent. Robinson improved to 2-0 in home openers after starting last year with a 68-58 win over Carroll College.

SUU will be on the road next week for an in-state matchup with Utah State. The Thunderbirds and Aggies will tip things off this Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. Coverage of Southern Utah basketball is available at

Sat. Nov. 28
@ Eastern Kentucky
(L) 85 -98
Tue. Nov. 24
vs. Cal State Fullerton
(L) 66 -80
Sat. Nov. 21
vs. UT San Antonio
(L) 79 -82
Wed. Nov. 18
(L) 64 -84
Fri. Nov. 13
@ Utah
(L) 71 -82
Thu. Mar. 12
@ Big Sky Tournament
Big Sky Tournament
Thu. Dec. 3
vs. La Verne
7:00 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 5
@ Utah Valley
7:00 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 12
vs. Bristol University
4:00 p.m.
Wed. Dec. 16
@ St. Mary's
8:00 p.m.
Sat. Dec. 19
11:00 a.m.
Tue. Dec. 22
@ Butler
6:30 p.m.
Thu. Dec. 31
vs. Montana State
4:00 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 2
vs. Montana
7:00 p.m.
Sat. Jan. 9
vs. Northern Arizona
7:00 p.m.