Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
CEDAR CITY, Utah, Feb. 14 – Sophomore guard Hailey Mandelko scored a game-high 22 points while matching her career mark with six three-pointers to lead Southern Utah (12-12, 6-8) past visiting Portland State (11-13, 5-10) by a final score of 83-60 Thursday night. The Thunderbirds built a 22-point lead at halftime after connecting on 8-12 shots from the outside to start the game, then added to the margin down the stretch for their largest win of the year in Big Sky play.
“Hailey got open looks and she is a great shooter, even with the mask,” stated head coach JR Payne. “We were worried about that a little bit, but you hit a couple of threes and once you’re that confident it’s hard to slow a team down.”
The Vikings opened the night with a deep three from Courtney VanBrocklin but SUU answered back with eight straight, including back-to-back corner threes by Tayler Anderson and Mandelko, to go up 8-3. Baskets were tough to come by in the early going as the two teams combined to convert just four of their first 20 attempts from the floor.
Southern Utah eventually settled in on offense however, and after a 15-0 run following the 13-minute mark, the Thunderbirds led 28-13. Carli Moreland came off the bench for two quick scores during the streak while Andrea Jones and Mandelko hit two more from behind the arc to add to the margin.
The lead would grow to 22 as Southern Utah recorded the final six points of the half with Mandelko driving inside for a lay-in to make the score 48-26 heading into the break. The junior guard connected on five of her first six shots from behind the arc. The T-Birds shot 48.7 percent overall while holding PSU to just 28.1 percent and outrebounded the Vikings 30-17 in the opening period.
Portland State outscored the T-Birds by a count of 11-4 in the first four minutes of the second half to cut the deficit to 15. SUU answered with a run of its own and Mandelko dropped in her sixth three of the night to push the score to 66-39 with 12:18 remaining.
The lead never dipped below 20 in the final minutes as Southern Utah began to pull its starters. The reserves hardly missed a beat as the SUU bench outscored Portland State by a count of 39-8 in the contest to help set the final margin at 83-60.
Southern Utah turned in one of its best shooting performances of the season, finishing the game 62.5 percent from beyond the arc and 47.1 percent in total. The T-Birds racked up 19 assists and blocked six shots. Portland State was held to just 31.7 percent shooting in the game and recorded 11 assists. The Thunderbirds also controlled the boards, outrebounding their opponents, 50-37.
“Rebounding and getting the ball inside and finishing inside is always really important for us,” commented Payne.
Along with Mandelko’s 22 points, Southern Utah got 14 from Jones, who finished a perfect 5-5 from the field and 3-3 from the three-point line, and 13 from Moreland. VanBrocklin scored 20 for the Vikings and Allison Greene added another 14.
SUU is back at home this Saturday for a matchup with the Eastern Washington Eagles. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m. at the Centrum Arena with coverage of the game available at 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