Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
CEDAR CITY, Utah Jan. 3 – Southern Utah took a 71-61 defeat to visiting Northern Arizona to fall to 1-1 in Big Sky play and 7-5 for the season. Junior guard Amanda Frost scored a career-high 27 points to help the Lumberjacks pick up their first conference victory and improve to 1-2 and 2-10 overall. Frost finished the game 3-5 from the three-point line as well as 10-15 from the field to record the highest scoring total of any SUU opponent this season.
“I think we let a team come into our gym and totally dictate the tempo of the game,” stated SUU head coach JR Payne. “We knew (Frost) was a shooter and we didn’t do what needed to in order to stop her.”
Southern Utah started the game with a quick 6-2 lead after turning over the Lumberjacks on each their first three possessions. Sophomore guard Hailey Mandelko got things going for the T-Birds early, knocking down a shot from behind the arc and then scoring a three-point point play with a lay-up and a foul.
Tayler Anderson and Andrea Jones followed up with back-to-back lay-ups to extend the SUU lead to 10-2 five minutes in. NAU quickly answered with six-straight points to pull within two.
Kimie Hawkins scored in transition to end the drought for Southern Utah, but the Lumberjacks came back with a pair of scores from Frost and Amy Patton to level the score at 12.
NAU used another run to go up by five halfway through the opening period, but six-straight points from Sofia Hepworth and another three from Mandelko helped SUU even up the game at 21-21.
Northern Arizona would then reel off one more big streak, scoring nine unanswered to go up 30-21. Patton was able to get inside for back-to-back lay-ups during the stretch to help the Jacks take their largest lead of the game.
Southern Utah cut the deficit to five with scores from Hepworth and Tayler Anderson in the closing minutes, but Frost dropped in five more to help NAU take a 38-28 lead into the break.
Northern Arizona shot over 51 percent from the field to start the game, while outrebounding the Thunderbirds by count of 26-15. Patton led all scorers with 13 first half points and the Lumberjacks would get another 12 from Frost. She was matched by Mandelko who turned in a dozen after going 3-7 from behind the arc in the early going.
Marquelle Funk knocked down her first three of the game early in the second half and then came back to add another score that brought SUU within five with the score at 40-35 near the 15-minute mark.
The Jacks pushed their lead back to nine, but the Thunderbirds battled back as consecutive jumpers from Marissa Robbins made it a two-possession game trailing 54-50 with seven minutes left to play.
The two sides traded scores and the margin remained at four as the clock ticked down to the final two minutes. NAU was able to hold off the T-Birds in the closing moments to come up with a 71-61 victory.
Along with Frost’s 27, the Lumberjacks got 18 from Patton and another 11 from Paige Haynes. Patton became Northern Arizona’s all-time leading scorer with a basket in the first half and pulled down 11 rebounds to help NAU post a 45-40 advantage on the glass. The Jacks shot 43.6 percent from the field while SUU finished with a mark of 33.3 percent, one of its lowest outputs of the season. Both teams committed 22 turnovers and made 14 assists.
“I don’t mind every turnover, but most of those were soft turnovers, they didn’t come while we were attacking the basket,” commented Payne. “We have defended well all year, we just didn’t do it tonight.”
SUU is back at home this Saturday night for another Big Sky matchup with Sacramento State. The Thunderbirds and Hornets will square off in the Centrum Arena at 7 p.m. Coverage of the game will be available on suutbirds.com.
Sat. Feb. 28
vs. North Dakota
(W) 73 -66
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
Thu. Mar. 5
@ Sacramento State
Sat. Mar. 7
@ Portland State