Andrea Jones scored 18 points in SUU's first meeting with Montana
SUU Strategic Communications

T-Birds Travel to First-Place Montana

February 25, 2013
By SUU Strategic Communication

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Southern Utah (13-13, 7-9 BSC) travels to Missoula this Thursday to take on the Big Sky leading Montana Grizzlies (19-6, 13-3). The game marks the second consecutive week that the T-Birds have squared off against a team at the top of the conference standings after SUU came up with a 73-57 win at Northern Colorado last Saturday. UM has won three straight and took down Southern Utah in the the two schools’ first meeting this year by a score of 78-63. Tip-off for Thursday’s game is set for 7 p.m. SUU will then journey to Montana State to take on the Bobacats on Monday in another 7 o’clock showdown. Coverage of this week’s game can be found on

Montana has won its last three games in Big Sky play, most recently picking up wins over Weber State and Idaho State, and sits alone atop the conference standings with a record of 13-3. Seniors Kenzie De Boer and Katie Baker lead the Grizzlies offensive with averages of 14.3 and 13.4 ppg. Head coach Robin Selvig is in his 35th season at Montana where he has established a career record of 793-253. Those marks make him the longest tenured coach at the same school and  sixth all-time in NCAA victories. Southern Utah is still looking for its first program win against UM which currently leads the all-time series 7-0.


With four games remaining in the regular season, Southern Utah has moved a full game ahead of Northern Arizona (7-18, 6-10) in the Big Sky standings for the seventh and final spot in the conference tournament. Portland State (5-12) and North Dakota (6-10) are also still in contention for the final postseason berth. The Thunderbirds wrap up their road slate with a trip to Big Sky leading Montana (19-6, 13-3) and a visit to Montana State (15-10, 9-7), before returning home to close out the season by hosting Northern Colorado (16-10, 13-4) and North Dakota.

Southern Utah went 7-11 from beyond the arc to pull away for a 73-57 win at Northern Colorado. Sophomore guard Hailey Mandelko scored 20 points to help the Thunderbirds take an important road win over the Bears, who came into the contest undefeated at home and tied with Montana atop the Big Sky Conference standings. Desiree Jackson finished with a season-high 15 points on 6-8 shooting while also dishing out four assists. Carli Moreland chipped in another 15 for the Thunderbirds and senior Tayler Anderson led all players with nine rebounds. D’shara Strange was the only Bear to score in the double-figures, finishing the game with 24 points and eight rebounds.

The momentum went back-and-forth in the matchup between Southern Utah and Eastern Washington, as both teams were unable to hold on to the advantage in a game that saw four ties and four lead changes. The Thunderbirds overcame an early 10-point deficit to take the lead at halftime, then built a nine-point advantage of their own in the second half before eventually allowing the Eagles to come back and pull away for a 78-70 win. The T-Birds had a strong night on the glass, outrebounding their opponents 52-35. Andrea Jones finished 4-6 from behind the arc for 20 points while Kimie Hawkins came up one rebound shy of a double-double with 13 points and nine boards. Lexie Nelson led all scorers with 22 points in the contest and Laura Hughes chipped in another 20 for the Eagles.


The Thunderbirds have proved themselves to be a strong rebounding team and are currently averaging 44.8 boards a game, the second-best mark in the Big Sky. SUU also holds a +7.0 rebounding margin advantage over its opponents, which ranks 24th in the nation. Junior forward Carli Moreland leads the T-Birds on the glass with an average of 6.5 rpg.


Hailey Mandelko was named the Big Sky Player of the Week for the second time this season on Feb. 25. The sophomore put up 21 points to lead the Thunderbirds to an important road win at Northern Colorado. Mandelko also picked up recognition from College Sports Madness as the Big Sky Player of the Week, marking the second time this year that she has received both honors.

Sophomore guard Hailey Mandelko is shooting 37.1 percent from behind the arc this season, a mark that puts her in the top ten shooters in the Big Sky and among the top 54 players in the nation. She hit six threes at SJSU early in the year and knocked down five against NAU.

The T-Bird offense has been putting up big numbers this season, twice eclipsing the 90-point mark and averaging over 70 points a game. That number puts SUU in the top 35 among the nation’s scoring offenses and second in the Big Sky. Southern Utah also ranks 67th in the NCAA with an average of 14.5 assists.