Sophomore Guard Desiree Jackson
SUU Strategic Communications

T-Birds Take Off on Big Sky Road Trip

January 22, 2013
By SUU Strategic Communication

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Southern Utah is set to begin its longest road swing of the season this week, with its next four games all being played away from Cedar City. The Thunderbirds will start the trip with visits to Portland State and Eastern Washington in the next few days, meeting up with the Vikings on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. (MT) and the Eagles on Saturday at 3 p.m. SUU (9-8, 3-4) is coming off a pair of home losses to Montana and Montana State. PSU (9-9, 3-6) also dropped two games in league play last week while EWU (10-8, 6-3) has won three-straight to move into third place in the Big Sky standings. Coverage of this week’s games can be found on

Portland State currently sits at 3-6 in Big Sky play after dropping a pair of home contests to Northern Colorado and Eastern Washington last week while picking up a 73-66 win over North Dakota. Senior guard Courtney VanBrocklin leads the team with an average of 14.9 ppg and is one of the top 3-point shooters in the BSC with a mark of 42.6 percent. Head coach Sherri Murrell is in her sixth season at PSU where she holds a record of 107-69. The Vikings edged SUU by a final score of 72-71 back in 2007 to improve to 10-1 all time against the T-Birds.

Eastern Washington has won in its last three outings, collecting victories over North Dakota, Northern Colorado  and Portland State to climb to third place in the conference standings. Sophomore guard Lexie Nelson is one of the top-scorers in the BSC with an average of 13.9 ppg. The Eagles also hold one of the Big Sky’s top shooters in Hayley Hodgins who enters the week shooting 41.9 percent from the outside. Head coach Wendy Schuller is in her 12th season at the school where she holds a career record of 152-188. The Thunderbirds have won their last five meetings with EWU and lead the head-to-head series five games to two.

Montana came away with a 78-63 win over Southern Utah behind 27 points from senior guard Kenzie De Boer Monday night. Andera 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.

Southern Utah came back from a 13-point halftime deficit against visiting Montana State to trail by just three in the final minutes, but the Big Sky leading Bobcats held on to come away with a 65-59 win Thursday night. SUU shot just 27.4 percent in the game, but converted on 23-of-32 attempts at the foul line. Kimie Hawkins finished as the Thunderbirds leading scorer with 12 points while Desiree Jackson and Hailey Mandelko each had 10. Latisha Adams led the Bobcats with 16 points and Rachel Semansky turned in a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

The Southern Utah University women’s basketball team has received its first commitments of the 2013 recruiting class as Madison Wright of Spokane, Wash. and Mary Klapperich of Palmer, Alaska have signed NLIs and will join the Thunderbirds next fall.

The Thunderbirds have proved themselves to be a strong rebounding team and are currently averaging 44.2 boards a game, the best mark in the Big Sky. SUU also holds a +6.5 rebounding margin advantage over its opponents, which is the 37th best mark in the nation. Senior forward Kimie Hawkins has been the top T-Bird on the glass so far this season with an average of 6.5 rpg.

The T-Bird offense has been putting up big numbers this season, twice eclipsing 90 points and averaging over 70 points a game. That number puts SUU in the top 50 among the nation’s scoring offenses. Southern Utah also ranks in the top 100 in the NCAA with a team three-point field goal percentage mark of 31.9%.

Hailey Mandelko was selected as a member of the Summit League All-Newcomer Team after leading Southern Utah with 14.0 ppg in conference play, an average that ranked eighth among the league’s top scorers. She also ranked second with a 41% three-point field goal percentage.


The Southern Utah University women’s basketball team has been picked to finish eleventh in its first season as a member of the Big Sky Conference. Defending champion Idaho State received eight first-place votes to come out on top of the coaches’ poll followed by Northern Colorado and the University of Montana. Northern Arizona and Weber State were slotted ninth and tenth respectively, just ahead of SUU.

• After starting the year 2-4, Southern Utah has won seven of its last eleven games and ran off five-straight wins in the month of December.

• The Thunderbirds have nine different players playing over 12 minutes a game and no one averaging more than 26 minutes (Marquelle Funk, 25.5 mpg).

• In its nine wins this season SUU is averaging 77.4 points a game and shooting over 42 percent. It their seven losses the T-Birds are scoring just over 61 points a game and shooting 36.2 percent from the field.