BIG SKY OPENER
It’s a historic week for Thunderbird Basketball as Southern Utah (5-4) travels to North Dakota (4-4) for its first game in the Big Sky Conference. North Dakota is also new to the BSC and is trying to protect a four-game winning streak. SUU has won three-straight and will be looking to avenge an early loss against UND from last season. That meeting between the two teams turned into a tightly contested matchup that saw 10 lead changes and a 5-0 T-Bird rally in the last two minutes that came up just short as North Dakota held on to win by a final score of 62-61. Coverage of this week’s game can be found on www.suutbirds.com.
ABOUT NORTH DAKOTA
After starting the season 0-4, North Dakota has bounced back by winning four in a row, most recently taking a 63-49 win at home over Jamestown. UND has a pair of post players who are currently scoring in double figures led by Megan Lauck with 11.0 ppg and Madi Buck who is averaging 10.5 ppg. Head Coach Travis Brewster took over the reins this season after serving nine years as an assistant in the program. North Dakota’s 62-61 win over SUU at New Mexico State’s Aggie Hotel Encanto Thanksgiving Classic last season marked the first all-time meeting between the two schools.
T-BIRDS PULL AWAY FROM HBU
After getting off to a slow start Southern Utah got things going in the second half to take a 79-58 win over visiting Houston Baptist. The Thunderbirds trailed by three at halftime but outscored the Huskies 53-29 down the stretch to pick up their third straight win and improve to 5-4 on the year. SUU shot almost 54 percent from the floor in the second period to up its field goal mark to 45.7 percent for the game. Sophomore guard Marquelle Funk led the T-Birds with 14 points in the game.
RECORD NIGHT LIFTS SUU PAST SJSU
The Southern Utah University Women’s basketball team matched its school record by knocking down 15 three-point field goals in a 93-82 win at San Jose State earlier this season. The T-Birds shot over 57 percent from downtown to go along with a season-high field goal mark of 49.3 percent. Sophomore guard Hailey Mandelko led the way by hitting five three-pointers to set a new career high with 27 points. Marquelle Funk also set a new career-mark by scoring 16 and SUU dominated the glass, posting a 43-27 rebounding advantage which included 20 offensive boards.
LIGHTING UP THE “SCORE-BIRD”
The T-Bird offense has been putting up big numbers this season, twice eclipsing 90 points and averaging 72 points a game. That number puts SUU in the top 40 among the nation’s scoring offenses. Southern Utah also ranks in the top 25 in the NCAA with a team three-point field goal percentage mark of 37.8%.
Sophomore guard Hailey Mandelko has hit 19 of her first 40 attempts from three to start the season, including a 6-10 performance in Southern Utah’s 93-82 win at San Jose State. Mandelko’s three-point shooting percentage currently sits at 47.5 percent, which ranks 13th in the country. She is also averaging 3.17 makes a game from the outside, a mark that puts her in the top 11 in the NCAA. Mandeko’s hot shooting helped her to be named the Big Sky Player of the Week on Dec. 10.
BATTLE ON THE BOARDS
The Thunderbirds have proved themselves to be a strong rebounding team and are currently averaging 45.4 boards a game. SUU also holds a +8.5 rebounding margin advantage over its opponents, which is the 30th best mark in the nation. Senior forward Kimie Hawkins has been the top T-Bird on the glass so far this season with her average of 8.3 rpg putting her among the top 140 players in the NCAA.
SUU ELEVENTH IN PRESEASON POLL
The Southern Utah University women’s basketball team has been picked to finish eleventh in its first season a member of the Big Sky Conference. Defending champion Idaho State received eight first place votes to come out on top of the coaches polls followed by Northern Colorado and the University of Montana. Northern Arizona and Weber State were slotted ninth and tenth respectively, just ahead of SUU.
T-BIRDS ADD TO COACHING STAFF
Southern Utah University added new assistant coach Jill Mahoney during this past offseason. Mahoney comes to SUU from Western State College of Colorado where she helped the Mountaineers to a top four finish in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference.
SUU HAS SOMETHING ‘BRUIN’
Southern Utah brought in three JC transfers this year, all of whom were teammates at Salt Lake Community College over the past two seasons. Sofia Hepworth (G) was the Bruins’ leading scorer with 14.9 ppg, Marissa Robbins (G) ranked second on the team with 10.7 ppg and Nicole Newbold (F) shot over 53% from the floor for SLCC.
• Junior Forward Carli Moreland recorded the first double-double of the season for SUU with an 11 point, 13 rebound performance against Southern Oregon. She then followed that up with a 16 point, 13 rebound outing against New Mexico State for her 11th career double-double.
• SUU returns three different players who finished last season with a double-digit scoring average including, Hailey Mandelko (13.1 ppg), Carli Moreland (11.1) and Andrea Jones (10.6).