FLAGSTAFF, Ariz., Jan. 5 - Damon Heuir scored a season-high 30 points, including 13-of-14 free throws in the second half, to lead Southern Utah to a 90-77 win over Northern Arizona Saturday afternoon. With the win the Thunderbirds remained undefeated in the Big Sky Conference at 3-0 and improved to 5-7 overall. Northern Arizona saw its BSC record dip to 2-2, 5-9 overall.
Heuir hit 6-of-11 shots, including 4-of-6 3-point attempts, and buried 14-of-16 free throws overall to lead all scorers. Jackson Stevenett added 14 for SUU before fouling out and Wade Collie scored 10. Julian Scott, who had missed the previous seven games with an injury, gave the Thunderbirds a lift with 13 points in 24 minutes off the bench.
SUU finished the game shooting 56.8 percent (25-of-44), its highest percentage of the season, and .538 from 3-point range (7-13), also its best of the season.
Southern Utah built leads as high as 18 points in the first half, going up 29-11 on Wade Collie's second straight 3-pointer with 10:50 to play, but the Max Jacobsen scored nine straight NAU points to spark a Lumberjack comeback. NAU went on a 13-1 run to get back within 30-24 when DeWayne Russell hit two free throws with 5:53 to play but the Thunderbirds answered with a 10-6 run and took a 42-30 lead at the break.
Southern Utah hit 6-of-10 3-pointers in the half, three by Heuir to get the T-Birds started, and two by Collie, and knocked down 15-of-24 shots overall, 62.5 percent.
Hueir opened the second half with the team's final 3-pointer of the afternoon, to lift the team to a 45-30 lead, and SUU pushed the advantage to 49-33 on a Stevenett layup but NAU scored the next nine points to pull within 49-42 and got as close as 51-45 on a pair of Gabe Rogers free throws with 12:33 to play.
Southern Utah kept the Lumberjacks at bay, however, going up 58-48 on a Collie free throw with 9:55 to play and answering every NAU run thereafter.
Heuir, A.J. Hess and Collie combined to hit 10-of-12 free throws in the final minute to clinch the win.
"It was a hard-fought game for 40 minutes," SUU Coach Nick Robinson said. "I thought our guys came out and got off to a good start, especially Damon he had three threes there in the first five minutes, and we were steady throughout the game. We handled their pressure for the most part, we had way too many turnovers, but down the stretch we were able to take care of the basketball, were able to make our free throws.
"We've got our work cut out for us, we need to conitinue to improve, but we got good contributions from everybody," Robinson added. "Julian did a nice job coming in for 24 minutes, I thought he played well, and obviously Jackson, he's been steady throughout the season, Damon had a nice night and Jordan [Johnson] came in played qulity minutes for us defensively as well as at the offensive end."
-- SUU --