Thunderbirds Fall to Wildcats in Big Sky Quarterfinals
By SUU Strategic Communication
RENO, Nev. – The Thunderbirds pulled within one of Wildcats to open the second half, but hot Wildcat shooting lifted WSU ahead for a comfortable 90-70 victory in the Big Sky Championships quarterfinal match-up.
“This loss hurt. Our guys hurt, and that’s what you want,” head coach Todd Simon said. “You want competitive guys that are hurting, and we have the right guys. We have guys that hate to lose and have the fire to forge ahead.”
Randy Onwuasor led all scorers in the Thunderbird loss with 29 points. James McGee finished with 20 points as Jacob Calloway chipped in 13.
Onwausor also led in rebounds, finishing with eight.
Weber State shot hot in the victory, shooting 52.5 percent from the field to SUU’s 39.3 percent.
“Weber was fantastic from the field,” Simon said. “They made shots with hands in their faces, ran great offenses, and seemed to convert everything. That’s just a testament to how good they are.”
Despite the quarterfinal loss, the Thunderbirds peaked at the right time after pulling an upset in round one of the tournament.
“A lot of people saw what we can really do. We’re playing our best basketball of the year at the right time,” McGee said. “We’re looking up. The sky's the limit for us, and we’re ready to get back to work and do what we can to have a better season next year.”
The Thunderbirds can keep their heads up after picking up the program’s first Big Sky tournament victory in round one of the tournament.
“We set a foundation for the program. For 33 games, we truly prepared, believed, and expected to win. I think that’s a tremendous milestone for our program,” Simon said. “To get rewarded for their play and get their first ever Big Sky Tournament win—that’s something we can build off of.”
The Wildcats took a quick 15-5 lead to begin the game following three-straight triples from WSU’s Jeremy Senglin. The Thunderbirds fought back to force a five-point game midway through the first half at 16-21.
Weber State pulled back ahead at 37-25 before a late first half Thunderbird rally, which was topped off by a steal from Calloway for a Onwuasor buzzer-beater layup, forced a six-point game at halftime for a 44-38 Wildcat lead.
Shooting an impressive 8 of 10 from the three-point line and 70.8 percent from the field for the Wildcats in the first half, the Thunderbirds held their own, shooting 5 of 11 from beyond the arch and 50.0 percent from the field.
An Onwuasor triple and a Joyce layup forced a one-point game to open the second half. The battle continued as the Wildcats led by just seven halfway through the final half.
Weber State took a 13-2 scoring spree, which guided the Wildcats to a comfortable second half, resulting in a 90-70 win.
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