Freshman guard Mary Klapperich
Deb Hill

SUU Back at Home for Two

February 05, 2014
By SUU Strategic Communication

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Southern Utah (12-6, 6-3) begins the second half of its Big Sky season this week by hosting Sacramento State (14-5, 6-4) and Northern Arizona (6-13, 3-7). The Hornets and Thunderbirds are part of a four-way tie for third-place in the conference standings along with Montana State and Idaho State while NAU sits near the bottom of the BSC.

Sac State is scheduled to visit the Centrum Arena this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. SUU knocked off the Big Sky’s highest-scoring team on the road earlier this season by a final score of 97-79. The Thunderbirds will look to avenge an 82-77 road loss from last month when they host the Lumberjacks on Monday at 7:00 p.m. They will have to hold Amanda Frost in check to do so as the senior guard has averaged over 24 points a game for her career against Southern Utah.

Additional coverage of T-Bird basketball can be found at

Sacramento State started 3-0 in conference play before a loss to Southern Utah started a three-game losing stretch. The Hornets have bounced back since then, winning three of their last four, and are tied with the Thunderbirds for the third spot in the Big Sky standings. At 89.6 ppg, Sac State is the second-highest scoring team in the nation. Senior guard Alle Moreno ranks ninth in the BSC with 14.5 ppg. Head coach Bunky Harkleroad took over the program this past offseason and has instituted an up-tempo, free-shooting offensive system that leads the NCAA by making 12.9 3-pointers per game. SUU and Sacramento State split their two meetings last year, but the Thunderbirds win earlier this season tipped the all-time series in their favor at 11-10.

NAU has lost three of its last four in conference play, but have taken all three of its Big Sky meetings with Southern Utah. Senior Lumberjack guard Amanda Frost leads the Big Sky in scoring  with 22.7 ppg while junior Erikka Banks is third in rebounding at 8.3 rpg. NAU holds the conference’s best shooting average with a 44.3 field goal percentage. The Lumberjacks’ defense ranks lower as the team gives up 79.0 ppg on 44.5 percent shooting. Head coach Sue Darling is in her second season in Flagstaff where she holds an overall record of 13-25. Northern Arizona’s win over the Thunderbirds earlier this year improved their all-time record against SUU to 17-10.

Southern Utah scored 49 second half points to erase an eight-point halftime deficit and rally for an 87-81 win at Montana State Thursday night. Junior guard Hailey Mandelko posted a season-high 22 points. Carli Moreland recorded her team-leading fifth double-double with 19 points and a season-high 15 rebounds. The Thunderbirds ended the week with a 81-73 loss at Montana. Mandelko matched her career-high with 27 points in defeat.

Southern Utah set a school record with 74 total rebounds and 39 offensive rebounds in its 101-44 victory over Arizona Christian. The new rebounding mark broke a 35 year-old record set against the former Dixie College in 1978.

Sophomore forward Lori Parkinson ranks third in the Big Sky with a 53.4 percent field goal percentage. That number puts her near the top-50 marks in the nation. If she can keep it up she is on pace to rank among the top-five single season performances in SUU history.

Southern Utah senior Carli Moreland was named the Big Sky Player of the Week by College Sports Madness on Dec. 23. The Broomfield, Colo. native averaged 19.5 points a game along 10.0 rebounds in a pair of Thunderbird victories. Moreland posted a double-double as SUU ran away from Arizona Christian before posting a career-high 25 points in the team’s win at Northern Colorado.

Southern Utah guard Hailey Mandelko was named among the student-athletes to receive Big Sky honorable mention recognition following the 2012-13 season. As a sophomore, she led SUU during the regular season by scoring 11.9 points a game. Mandelko also recorded 50 assists, 40 steals and 83 rebounds for the T-Birds Mandelko was twice named the Big Sky Player of the Week.

After being picked to finish last in the Big Sky preseason poll in 2012-13, Southern Utah came in sixth in this year’s conference coaches vote. Eastern Washington was selected atop the poll, 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 Portland State and North Dakota were also picked to the make it to the postseason tournament.

Carli Moreland has cracked the SUU record books in two career categories as she ranks seventh in rebounds (675) and fifth in blocked shots (92). The senior center surpassed her former teammate Tayler Anderson (633) in rebounding this year and needs 26 blocks to equal Thunderbird great Cherri Frandsen (118). Senior guard Andrea Jones will look to distance herself as Southern Utah’s best free throw shooter as her current mark of 85.3 percent is the best in program history. She is also climbing in assists (263) where she sits at sixth all-time after also passing Anderson (247) earlier this year.