Thunderbirds Win Thriller at Portland State
Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
Release: 01/26/2013
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PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 24 – Southern Utah (10-8, 4-4 Big Sky) came back in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime and then erased a eight-point deficit in the extra period to escape with a 70-68 at Portland State (9-10, 3-7 Big Sky) Thursday night. The Thunderbirds fell behind by a score of 68-60 with just over a minute to play before recording the final 10 points of the night to come up with the improbable win.

The Vikings made several runs to start the game, the first of which put them up 11-2 early on. The T-Birds were able to answer with a rally each time however and trailed only 34-32 at the break.

Things remained close in the second half and two-quick threes from Hailey Mandelko late in the period put SUU up by two with the score at 51-49. The lead changed hands several times in the final moments until a three-pointer from Courtney VanBrocklin put PSU out in front by a count of 56-53.

The Thunderbirds eventually battled back to tie the score at 58-58 as Kimie Hawkins connected on a free throw after the team had held the Vikings to just two points in the final three minutes of regulation. SUU forward Carli Moreland came up with a big block during the home team’s final possession to send the game into overtime.

PSU ran off seven-straight points to begin the extra period, building a 65-58 advantage. Sofia Hepworth finally ended the Thunderbirds drought with a pair of free throws, but Angela Misa completed a three-point play to stretch the lead back to eight.

The next 30 seconds saw SUU run off eight-straight points to tie the game at 68-68 with an amazing flurry of offense. It started with two more free throws from Hepworth, followed by a four-point play by Mandelko who was fouled while sinking her third three-pointer of the night. Andrea Jones then came up with a steal and took the ball up court for the game-tying basket.

Hepworth made another steal for the T-Birds to set up Jones for a game-winning score with just four seconds on the clock. Portland State turned the ball over again on its final possession and SUU escaped with the 70-68 victory. 

Four different Thunderbirds finished in the double-figures as Mandelko led the way for Southern Utah with 15 points while Hepworth had 14, Jones finished with 10 and Moreland was just short of double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds. Portland State also had four players score in the double-figures, led by sophomore guard Allison Greene who had 16.

The stats were almost identical on both sides as SUU shot the ball 38.8 percent to the Vikings 36.1 percent, held a 45-44 rebounding edge and each team turned the ball over 22 times. The Thunderbirds did record a 28-22 scoring advantage on points in the paint and received 40 points from their bench while PSU had just 19.

Southern Utah will look to build momentum from the win this Saturday as it continues its road trip with a visit to Eastern Washington. The T-Birds and Eagles are scheduled to tip things off at 3:00 p.m. (MT) Live coverage of the game is available at www.suutbirds.com.
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