SUU coaches JR Payne and Toriano Towns both coached at Boise State
SUU Strategic Communications

Southern Utah Starts Season at Boise State

November 05, 2013
By SUU Strategic Communication

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Southern Utah tips off the 2013-14 season with a visit to Boise State this week for a Friday night showdown set for 5:30 p.m. The contest will be a homecoming of sorts for Thunderbird head coaches JR Payne and Toriano Towns who both spent time on the BSU coaching staff between 2005-08, helping the Broncos to two conference titles and a trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Thunderbirds look to further their high-flying offense from a year ago while Boise State looks to replace its former leading scorer, rebounder and second-team all-Mountain West performer Lauren Lenhardt. Coverage of SUU basketball, along with links for live stats and video, can be found on

Boise State returns seven members of a team that went 11-19 last season, including junior guard Brendi Henton, who was named the Mountain West Conference Newcomer of the Year after ranking second on the team with an average of 10.4 ppg. Head coach Gordy Presnell enters his 9th year at BSU where he holds a record of 136-113 (.546) and led the Broncos to an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2007. The Thunderbirds are 1-6 all-time against Boise State with the most recent matchup ending in 91-80 defeat on the road during the 2010-11 season.

Forwards Carli Moreland and Lori Parkinson combined for 44 points and 25 rebounds to lead Southern Utah past visiting Dixie State by a final score of 90-69 in the team’s first outing of the year last week. The Thunderbirds totaled 58 points in the paint and turned 37 turnovers into 38 points to come away with the win. Southern Utah then closed out exhibition play by shooting over 51 percent from the field to run away with a 92-49 victory over visiting Western State Colorado. Parkinson added another 15 points along with junior guard Desiree Jackson who also went for 15 in the win. SUU averaged 91.0 ppg in the preseason while shooting 46 percent from the field. The T-Birds also outrebounded their opponents by a combined count of 89-66.

The Thunderbirds led the Big Sky in rebounding last season, averaging 43.9 boards a game. SUU also held a +5.8 rebounding margin advantage over its opponents, which ranked 41st nationally. Carli Moreland was the teams top rebounder, pulling down 6.3 rpg.

Sophomore guard Hailey Mandelko shot 36.4 percent from behind the arc last season, a mark that put her in the top ten shooters in the Big Sky and among the top 60 players in the nation. She hit six threes at SJSU early in the year and knocked down five against NAU.

The T-Bird offense put up big numbers last season, twice eclipsing the 90-point mark and averaging just over 70 points a game. That number put SUU in the top 32 among the nation’s scoring offenses during the regular season and second in the Big Sky. Southern Utah also ranked 68th in the NCAA shooting 32.9 percent from three.

Southern Utah guard Hailey Mandelko was named among the student-athletes to receive Big Sky honorable mention recognition followoing the 2012-13 season. As a sophomore, she led SUU during the regular season by scoring 11.9 points a game. Mandelko ranked among the top-shooters in the country, averaging 2.21 3-point field goals a game while hitting 36.0 percent of her attempts from beyond the arc. She also recorded 50 assists, 40 steals and 83 rebounds for the T-Birds while shooting over 78 percent at the foul line. Mandelko was twice named the Big Sky Player of the Week.

Southern Utah’s men’s and women’s basketball teams both competed at the Big Sky Conference Tournament in the school’s first season as a league member. The last imes the two programs made a trip to the postseason in the same year before then came back in 2007-08 when the Thunderbirds were in the Summit League.

After being picked to finish last in the Big Sky preseason poll last season, Southern Utah came in sixth in this year’s conference coaches poll. Eastern Washington was selected atop the poll while receiving six first place votes, followed by Montana (3) and Northern Colorado (2). Montana State and Idaho State came in just ahead of SUU while Porland State and North Dakota were also picked to the make it to the postseason tournament.