Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
BOULDER, Colo., Dec. 29 – Southern Utah (7-3, 1-0 BSC) trailed by just a single basket in the closing minutes of its matchup against No. 12 Colorado (10-1, 0-0 Pac-12) on Sunday before a late run helped the Buffaloes pull away for a 75-59 victory. SUU guard Desiree Jackson led all scorers with a season-high 21 points on 6-10 shooting in the loss while also leading the Thunderbirds with six rebounds and three assists.
The two sides went back-and-forth in the opening minutes as the SUU defense kept Colorado in check, holding the Buffaloes to 5-19 shooting during the first ten minutes of the game. Thunderbird senior Carli Moreland then knocked down a jumper to even the score at 13-13.
Junior guard Jasmine Sborov got inside for a layup to give the lead back to the Buffs who would use a 7-0 run near the five-minute mark to push their advantage into double figures for the first time of the afternoon. SUU came back with a three from Hailey Mandelko and a jumper by Desiree Jackson to narrow the margin to 30-24 with just under two minutes left in the half, but Colorado would drop in the final six points to hold a 36-24 lead at the break.
Both teams struggled from 3-point territory in the opening half as they each had just one make to go a combined 2-13 from the outside. The Buffaloes held a narrow edge in field goal percentage at 38.7 percent to 34.6 percent, but doubled up SUU at the foul line where they went 11-16 to Southern Utah’s mark of 5-6 in the first 20 minutes.
The T-Birds cut away at the deficit by outscoring CU 10-2 over the first four-and-a-half minutes of the second half to pull back within four. All but two of those points came on free throws, including four from senior Andrea Jones who improved to 24-24 from the foul line on the season, to make the count 38-34.
Colorado responded with seven-straight to increase the margin back to 11 but an 18-9 run had the Thunderbirds back within a single score at the eight-minute mark. Jackson got the rally going with a layup, and went on to put up nine points over the stretch while Moreland added another five including a pair of free throws that set the tally at 54-52.
The Buffalo defense took control from there, holding Southern Utah to just two field goals and seven points over the final seven minutes. Sophomore Colorado forward Arielle Roberson upped her scoring total to 18 points with several key plays in closing moments to help her team pull away for the 75-59 win.
Jackson’s 25 points made her the game’s leading scorer and the only T-Bird to reach double figures. Along with Roberson’s 18, Colorado got another 14 from Ashley Wilson, 12 from Sborov and 11 from Jen Reese. Roberson and Sborov each turned in a double-double after pulling down 12 and 10 rebounds respectively.
The Buffaloes shot 37.9 percent in the game while the Thunderbirds finished at 34 percent. Each side went 1-13 from the 3-point line, with SUU going 22-26 on free throws to a mark of 24-36 for the home team. Both teams recorded 20 points off of turnovers, but CU held a 38-24 advantage in points in the paint and a 12-5 edge in second chance points. The Southern Utah bench outscored Colorado 34-25.
The Thunderbirds resume Big Sky Conference play this Thursday as they make the long trip to North Dakota. Tip-off is set for 5:00 p.m. (MT) with coverage available online at www.suutbirds.com.