Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
CHENEY, Wash., Jan. 26 – Southern Utah came away from its visit to Eastern Washington with a 79-70 loss in a tightly contested matchup that helped the Eagles pick up their fourth-straight win in the Big Sky to improve to 7-3 in conference play and 11-8 on the season. After splitting a pair of road games this week, SUU is now 4-5 against the BSC and 10-9 overall.
The Thunderbirds went 6-6 from the foul line to start the game on their way to an early with a 12-4 lead. The Eagles then bounced back with two quick threes from Kylie Huerta and Aubrey Ashenfelter halfway through the opening period, but Hailey Mandelko answered with a shot from behind the arc to make the score 17-10 in favor of SUU.
Sofia Hepworth knocked down a jumper to put Southern Utah up 26-20 with just under seven minutes remaining in the half, but Eastern Washington rallied with an 11-0 run to claim a five-point advantage.
The Eagles extended their lead to eight late in the half, but Desiree Jackson scored the final three baskets of the period for Southern Utah to help her team go into the break down by just six at 41-35.
Mandelko paced the T-Birds with 10 first-half points while the Eagles displayed a balanced scoring attack led by Huerta and Chenise Pakootas who each had eight in the early going. EWU shot almost 43 percent from the field to start the game to Southern Utah’s 35.5 percent. The Thunderbirds made up the difference on the boards and at the foul line where they posted a free-throw percentage mark of 92.9 percent on 12-13 shooting and outrebounded their opponents 21-14.
Tayler Anderson opened the second half with a shot from the outside to cut the Southern Utah deficit in half, but Eastern Washington used an 11-4 run to push the margin to ten, going up 52-42 near the 13-minute mark.
The next few minutes saw SUU battle back to cut the lead to 58-55 as Anderson capped 13-3 run with a pair of free throws. The Eagles pulled away again however as Lexie Nelson hit two more threes to put her team up 70-61 with four minutes remaining.
Southern Utah scored five-straight points to bring the margin back down to six with just over a minute left to play, but Hayley Hodgins hit a big three to put EWU back up by nine and the Eagles eventually held on for the 79-70 victory.
The Thunderbirds shot 22-27 at the foul line and 34.8 percent from the field, but couldn’t keep up with Eastern Washington which was 8-14 from the three-point line and shot the ball 44.2 percent overall. SUU held a 44-25 rebounding advantage, including 24 offensive rebounds that resulted in 19 second-chance points, but the Eagles put in 25-26 free throws attempts and scored 24 points off of turnovers.
Nelson finished with 21 to lead the Eagles after hitting 3-4 from behind the arc. Mandelko scored 14 for the T-Birds and Jackson turned in a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
SUU continues its four-game road swing next week with visits to Sacramento State and Northern Arizona. The Thunderbirds will face the Hornets next Saturday at 3 p.m. (MT) Live coverage of the game is 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