Courtesy: SUU Publications
CEDAR CITY, Utah, Nov. 21 – Senior guard Damon Heuir scored 16 points to help Southern Utah to a 68-58 win over Carroll College in its home opener Wednesday night. The win is the first of the season for the Thunderbirds and marks head coach Nick Robinson’s first career victory.
“It’s great to get a win,” stated Robinson. “We played extremely hard tonight and got contributions from everyone.”
Southern Utah put up the first two baskets of the game as Jaren Jeffery tipped in a shot and Jordan Johnson scored inside, but Carroll came back with eight unanswered points to take an 8-4 lead five minutes in.
The Thunderbirds quickly rallied after freshman guard A.J. Hess found his range from for a pair of threes and Wade Collie took a steal coast-to-coast for a lay-up and a free throw to make the count 17-11.
After a Fighting Saints’ basket, Chris Nsenki kept the SUU run going by finding Julian Scott down low for a two-handed slam. The Thunderbirds then went on to cap a 22-7 run with Heuir finding Jayson Cheesman in transition for a lay-in that pushed their advantage into the double figures at 26-15.
Heuir scored eight-consecutive points for SUU in the closing minutes of the half to lead all scorers at the break with 12 and help Southern Utah to a 39-25 halftime advantage.
The Thunderbirds shot the ball over 48 percent in the opening period while outrebounding their opponents by a count of 21 to 11. The Saints hung around by going 5-11 from the three-point line. Junior guard Nick Jones was responsible for two of those makes and led the Saints with eight points in the early going.
Southern Utah added to its lead over the first ten minutes of the second half as Collie scored seven quick points. Heuir then added four more to his total to push the SUU advantage to 58-37 with 9:57 left to play. From there the Thunderbirds rode out the final minutes with 10 points scored by five different players to eventually earn the victory by a final score of 68-58.
SUU finished the game shooting 45.9 percent from the floor with 40 points scored in the paint. In addition to Heuir’s 16, the Thunderbirds got 10 from Collie and another nine from Scott. They also held a 40-27 advantage on the glass, getting 11 rebounds from Jeffery.
“Our shooting percentage has been pretty good so far,” explained Robinson. “We were running the same plays tonight, but the difference was that our guys did a lot to make each other better. They worked to set better screens that gave us better looks at the basket.”
The Saints were 18-45 from the field in the game, with half of those makes coming from the three-point line. Ben Cutler scored 18 to lead the visitors, who got another 11 from Jones and 10 from both Brett Ball and Chris McGrath.
“We made a huge improvement in turnovers, but that will continue to be an emphasis for us,” commented Robinson. “You can see how important that is in the fact that they scored 20 points off the ones that we did commit.”
Southern Utah improves to 1-4 on the year with the win while Carroll College drops to 0-6. SUU will now have a week to prepare for its next game, a road contest at TCU on Nov. 29. The Thunderbirds and Horned Frogs will square off next Thursday at 6 p.m. (MT)
Sun. Nov. 16
@ Miami (Oh)
(L) 63 -76
Fri. Nov. 14
@ Kansas State
(L) 68 -98
Sat. Nov. 8
vs. Arkansas-Fort Smith (Exhib.)
(L) 72 -73
Sat. Nov. 1
vs. San Diego Christian (Exhib.)
(W) 79 -57
Sat. Oct. 18
vs. Red vs. White Preview
Thu. Mar. 13
Big Sky Tournament
Sat. Nov. 22
vs. Utah Valley
Wed. Nov. 26
vs. Eastern Kentucky
Sun. Nov. 30
Sat. Dec. 6
vs. St. Katherine's
Sun. Dec. 14
@ Boise State
Fri. Dec. 19
@ Loyola Chicago
Mon. Dec. 22
@ Arkansas Pine Bluff
Las Vegas Classic
Tue. Dec. 23
@ South Carolina State or Abilene Christian
Las Vegas Classic
Sat. Dec. 27