Senior guard Andrea Jones
SUU Strategic Communications

Thunderbirds Wrap-Up Homestand this Week

January 21, 2014
By SUU Strategic Communication

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Southern Utah (9-6, 3-3) closes out its opening Big Sky homestand this week by playing host to Portland State (5-11, 3-4) and Eastern Washington (8-8, 4-3). The Thunderbirds will square off against the Vikings this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. before meeting up with the Eagles on Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

SUU has split its first three series during conference play and will look to protect its homecourt advantage to gain an edge in the conference standings. The T-Birds enter the week tied for fourth in the Big Sky, one spot ahead of Portland State and just behind Eastern Washington.

The Thunerbirds took down Weber State last week before falling to Idaho State. PSU split against Sacramento State and Northern Arizona while the Eagles swept those same two teams at home.

Additional coverage of T-Bird basketball can be found at

Portland State played a difficult non-conference schedule but has picked up victories over Eastern Washington,  Weber State, and Sacramento State in Big Sky play. Senior guard Kate Lanz leads the team with 13.0 ppg and ranks fifth in the conference with 4.7 apg. Forward Angela Misa is second in the Big Sky with 9.0 rpg. The PSU defense is near the bottom of the league, allowing 82.8 ppg on 46.2 percent shooting. Head coach Sherri Murrell is in her sixth season in Portland where she holds a record of 110-77. Southern Utah swept its two-game set with the Vikings last season to improve to 3-10 in the all-time series. Portland State was selected seventh in preseason poll.

After a difficult start to the season the preseason favorite has won eight of its last 11 and sits one spot ahead of SUU in the conference standings. Junior guard Lexie Nelson ranks third in the Big Sky with 17.8 ppg while center Laura Hughes sits in sixth place with 14.9 ppg. The EWU offense leads the Big Sky in both 3-point and overall field goal percentage with marks of 40.1 and 44.0 percent. Nelson ranks second from behind the arc at 47.2 percent while Hughes’ 58.3 percent field goal percentage is the best in the Big Sky.Wendy Schuller is in her 12th season as the head coach in Cheney where she holds a career record of 161-193. Eastern Washington won both meetings between the two schools last year, but Southern Utah holds a 6-4 edge all-time.

In its first three series during conference play, Southern Utah has repeated the pattern of winning its first game before dropping the second. The most recent split came last week as the Thunderbirds took a 76-64 victory over Weber State, behind 19 points from Carli Moreland, before dropping a 69-65 decision to Idaho State while shooting a season-low 28.6 percent from the field. Junior guard Desiree Jackson had 21 points as SUU took its first home loss of the year.   

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 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 54.1 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 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 last season, 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 (646) and fifth in blocked shots (87). The senior center surpassed her former teammate Tayler Anderson (633) in rebounding this year and needs 31 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 (256) where she sits at seventh all-time after also passing Anderson (247) earlier this year.