Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
CEDAR CITY, Utah, Jan. 21 – Montana came away with a 78-63 win over Southern Utah behind 27 points from senior guard Kenzie De Boer Monday night. The Grizzlies hit 12 three pointers in the game to improve to 6-2 in the Big Sky and 12-5 overall while dropping SUU to 9-8 and 3-4 in conference play.
“We’ve got to be consistent, we’re just playing as individuals,” stated SUU head coach JR Payne. “That’s a very good team we lost to tonight, that’s a team that I would like to model our team after. They’re disciplined, they are hard-working, they do what they are supposed to do.”
Montana forward Katie Baker scored the first four points of the game as the visitors jumped out to 6-0 lead. Tayler Anderson then connected on a turnaround jumper in the lane to get SUU on the board.
The Grizzlies went on to stretch their advantage to nine on a three-pointer by De Boer but the Thunderbirds answered back with a deep ball from Hailey Mandelko to make the score 11-5 after five minutes of play. That shot started a 12-0 run that ended with SUU going up by three on a driving layup from Andrea Jones.
Montana quickly came back to tie the score as Alyssa Smith connected from the outside and De Boer added another three to help her team retake the lead. Mandelko then hit her second shot from behind the arc to level game at 17-17 just past the midway point of the opening period.
The Grizzlies continued to rain in shots from the outside as Baker and De Boer added two more threes to make the count 25-21. They went on to extend the margin to eight after Carly Selvig hit a jumper to make the score 33-25, but Southern Utah closed the final two minutes of the half on a 9-0 run that ended with Jones driving inside for a lay-in to beat the horn and put the Thunderbirds up 34-33 heading into the break.
De Boer led all scorers with 13 points in the opening half while Mandelko paced SUU with 11. Both players hit three triples in the first 20 minutes and both sides shot the ball well in the early going. The Grizzlies went 38.7 percent from the field to start the game while the T-Birds turned in a mark of 41.7 percent.
The two sides traded scores to start the second half until De Boer got going again and dropped in a pair of quick baskets to put Montana up 45-38. The threes kept coming for the visitors who stretched the margin to 60-46 on an outside shot from Torry Hill with just over ten minutes remaining.
The Grizzlies continued to build their lead down the stretch, going up by as many as 18 points. The Thunderbirds worked to chip away at the deficit, but Montana eventually held on for the 78-63 win.
“They got a lot of great shots but a lot of them were uncontested,” commented Payne. “We did get to the free throw line really, really well. We gave ourselves a chance to win the ball game, but we missed too many of them.”
Jones scored 12 second half points to finish with 18 for the T-Birds who shot 38.3 percent as a team. Along with De Boer’s 27, Montana got another 12 from Jordan Sullivan and was 45 percent from the field. Rebounds were even as SUU came up with 36 to the Grizzlies 35. The Thunderbirds forced 21 takeaways in the game, but also turned the ball over 25 times.
“I think most of our losses have come down to the little things,” explained Payne. “We’re just not disciplined enough. They’re not a high-pressure team, we turned the ball over and those hurt us.”
The T-Birds now prepare to play their next four games on the road, starting with trips to Portland State and Eastern Washington this week. SUU will take on the Vikings this Thursday at 8:30 p.m. (MT) and then visit the Eagles on Saturday at 3:00. Coverage of the games will be available on www.suutbirds.com.
Sat. Mar. 8
vs. Northern Colorado
(W) 63 -48
Thu. Mar. 6
vs. North Dakota
(W) 73 -53
Sat. Mar. 1
vs. Montana State
(W) 70 -60
Wed. Feb. 26
(W) 69 -49
Sat. Feb. 22
@ Portland State
(W) 86 -79
Thu. Feb. 20
@ Eastern Washington
(L) 54 -59
Thu. Mar. 13
Big Sky Conference Tournament