Hot-Shooting T-Birds Dominate Northern Arizona, 93-59
CEDAR CITY, Utah, Feb. 10 – Southern Utah (14-7, 8-4 BSC) shot over 64 percent from the field for a second consecutive game to take a 93–59 win over visiting Northern Arizona (6-15, 3-9) Monday night. Junior forward Marquelle Funk netted 16 points to match her career-high and was one of five Thunderbirds to score in double figures as SUU avenged an early season loss to the Lumberjacks.
“I don’t know if it so much what we learned about them as it is what we have learned about ourselves,” stated head coach JR Payne. “I think we are playing with a lot more confidence, discipline and poise. We are a different team than we were a month ago and I’m really excited about that.”
The Thunderbirds opened up a 7-2 advantage to start the game as Funk sank a three from the wing and Hailey Mandelko scored a driving layup in transition. Andrea Jones found Lori Parkinson on another fast break a couple of minutes later to stretch the margin to seven.
Southern Utah continued to push the tempo and extended the lead to 20-8 as Marissa Robbins scored a put-back basket halfway through the opening period. Mandelko was then fouled on a 3-point attempt and sank all three tries to make the count 25-8.
The Thunderbirds held the ‘Jacks to 24 points in the first 20 minutes while SUU shot 63 percent from the floor to build a 45-24 lead at the break. Southern Utah doubled up the visitors on the glass, 20-10, and NAU started the game 0-10 from the 3-point line.
Northern Arizona forward Catelyn Preston dropped in two-quick shots early in the second half, but a three from the corner by Ashleigh Munns and a three point play by Mandelko helped the T-Birds up the difference to 56-24 with 15:39 remaining.
A steal by Funk led to another breakaway lay-in for Jones near the eight-and-a-half minute mark to stretch the difference to 30 points as SUU went up 75-45. A pair of 3-pointers from freshman Mary Klapperich and Munns gave Southern Utah its largest lead of the night and a late jumper from Jessica Richardson set the final tally at 93-59.
The Thunderbirds turned in 93 points for the second straight time after getting 13 from Mandelko while Moreland, Jackson and Jones all scored 12. Funk added four rebounds, three steals and a block to her team team-high 16 points.
“Marquelle is the definition of solid,” commented Payne. “She does what she is supposed to do offensively and defensively. She has done a great job playing inside and outside as well.”
SUU controlled the glass for a 38-23 rebounding edge and held the Big Sky’s leading-scorer Amanda Frost to 11 points, just under half of her season-average coming into the game. Freshman point guard Brittani Lusain paced the ‘Jacks with 18 points. NAU finished 0-17 from behind the 3-point line.
Southern Utah now gets set to head back out on the road for meetings with Idaho State on Thursday and Weber State this Saturday. The Thunderbirds and Bengals square off at 7:00 p.m., followed by a two o’clock matchup with the Wildcats to wrap up the week in Ogden. Coverage of SUU basketball is available online at www.suutbirds.com.