Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
CEDAR CITY, Utah Dec. 29 – Southern Utah knocked off visiting Utah Valley by a final score of 66-49 at the Centrum Arena Saturday night. The victory marked the T-Birds seventh-straight over the Wolverines and ran their current winning-streak to five games as they wrap up nonconference play with an overall record of 7-4 along with a 1-0 mark in the Big Sky. UVU falls to 4-11 after falling against SUU for the second time this season.
“Anytime you are winning that is a good thing, and I feel like we are playing really well at times right now,” stated SUU head coach JR Payne. “It’s great to have some momentum, the kid’s feel good and are showing an understanding of what we are doing.”
The Thunderbirds put up the first points of the game as Sofia Hepworth drove inside and left a pass for Kimie Hawkins for an open lay-in. SUU started the game hot, going on to hit five of its first six attempts from the field to jump out to an 10-4 lead.
Utah Valley quickly cut the margin in half as Ashley Klemz dropped in a three, and Tiny Doughty added a score inside to bring her team within one at 10-9.
Freshman Lori Parkinson then came off the bench for a pair of baskets that helped spark an 8-2 Southern Utah run and pushed the lead to 18-11 with 12:00 minutes to go in the opening half.
The Wolverines then rallied with seven unanswered to tie the game at 18 all. Whitney Jenkins knocked down a shot to get things going for UVU and Klemz wrapped up the streak with a jumper from the top of the key to level the score.
After the two teams traded baskets, the T-Birds retook control by scoring nine-unanswered over the next five minutes to go up 29-20. Marquelle Funk finished things off by sinking a three from the top of the arc, extending the SUU lead to a game-high nine points. Southern Utah would hold the advantage through the closing moments of the half, eventually taking a 32-24 score into the break.
Both teams shot 38 percent from the floor in the opening half, but SUU was able to capitalize on 16 Utah Valley turnovers and pull down 10 offensive rebounds to attempt 15 more total field goals than its opponent. Hawkins and Hepworth each had six points for the T-Birds in the early going while Klemz scored seven off the bench to lead UVU.
Funk opened the second half with a deep three and Hepworth added a basket as SUU stretched its lead to 13 to open the half. The two sides then traded scores over the next several minutes until another score from Hepworth pushed the margin back to 13 as SUU went up 45-32 with just over 13 minutes left to play.
The Thunderbirds continued to build on its lead from there, eventually going up by 17 as Lori Parkinson scored a put-back lay-up to make the count 53-36 near the seven-minute mark.
Utah Valley made a small push in the final minutes, but another lay-up from Parkinson and a three for Hepworth would squelch the run as SUU went back up by 17. The T-Birds cruised down the stretch, taking the game by a final score of 66-49.
The Thunderbirds shot the ball 37.7 percent in the game while holding their opponents to a mark of 32.1 percent. SUU posted a 50-38 advantage on the boards, with 23 of those rebounds coming on the offensive end where Southern Utah scored 21 second chance points.
Hawkins and Hepworth each scored 13 to lead the T-Birds and Parkinson recorded her first career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Sammie Jensen finished with 14 and 14 for the visitors.
“Sofia is instant offense, she does a great job of making something out of nothing,” commented Payne. “Lori was great. She is so athletic and long that she is very capable of having big nights like that.”
SUU will return to Big Sky play next week with home contests against Northern Arizona and Sacramento State. The Thunderbirds will meet up with the Lumberjacks on Thursday before rounding out the week against the Hornets next Saturday. Both games are set to begin at 7 p.m. (MT)
Thu. Feb. 26
vs. Northern Colorado
(L) 66 -88
Sat. Feb. 21
(L) 49 -76
Thu. Feb. 19
@ Eastern Washington
(L) 67 -88
Sat. Feb. 14
vs. Idaho State
(W) 76 -75
Thu. Feb. 12
vs. Weber State
(L) 48 -50
Sat. Feb. 7
@ Northern Colorado
(L) 58 -87
Sat. Feb. 28
vs. North Dakota
Thu. Mar. 5
@ Sacramento State
Sat. Mar. 7
@ Portland State