LUBBOCK, Texas Nov. 25 – Southern Utah closed out its appearance at the BTI Classic with a 65-54 loss to Nicholls State on Sunday. The Thunderbirds made a late push in the second half after falling behind early on, but were unable to catch the Colonels who held on for the win.
Nicholls State put up the first five points of the game, but SUU came back to tie the score at 7-7 on a basket by Tayler Anderson five minutes in. The Colonels would then mount another run take a 17-10 lead on a pair of free throws from LiAnn McCarthy just past the midpoint of the opening period.
The T-Birds rallied once again however, outscoring their opponents by a count of 6-1 over the next five minutes to narrow the margin to 18-16 with the half winding down. Nicholls then went on to close out the period on 10-2 run, finished off by a three-pointer for KK Babin, to take a 28-20 advantage into the break.
Southern Utah held a 26-15 rebounding edge in the early going, but trailed its opponents in field goal percentage with a mark of 28.6 percent to the Colonels 34.5 percent.
The Thunderbirds got the first points of the second half as Anderson knocked down another jumper to bring SUU within six with the score at 28-22, but the Colonels used another run to push their lead to a game-high 17 after Alisha Allen scored a basket to make the count 51-34 near the six-minute mark.
Hailey Mandelko sank a three to bring SUU back within ten with three minutes left on the clock and Andrea Jones added another after a Nicholls basket to make the score 58-49 with just over a minute to play, but the Colonels would go 5-6 from the free throw line in the final seconds to hold on for the 65-54 win.
Southern Utah went 18-52 from the field for an overall shooting percentage of 34.6 percent while Nicholls State shot the ball 23-55 for a mark of 41.8 percent. SUU outrebounded its opponent 41-33 but gave up 21 turnovers.
The Colonels had three players score in the double-figures, led by McCarthy and Babin who each had 16. Mandelko was the Thunderbirds top-scorer with 12 points and went 3-6 from the three-point line. Anderson and Jones also each chipped in eight for SUU.
Senior forward Tayler Anderson was also named to the all-tournament team after averaging 5.7 rebounds per game, 1.3 assists and 6.7 points on 52.9 percent shooting.
The loss drops Southern Utah’s record to 2-3 so far this season while Nicholls State improves to 6-2. The T-Birds will look to get back into the winning column this coming Saturday when they return home to face New Mexico State. The game will tip-off in the Centrum Arena at 5 p.m. and will be the first half of a special doubleheader with the men’s team who till take on San Diego Christian at 7:30.