FT. WORTH, Texas, Nov. 29 - Damon Heuir scored a season-high 25 points and Jayson Cheesman pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds and blocked three shots but TCU outscored Southern Utah 24-15 in the final 10 minutes to overcome a one-point deficit and hand the improving Thunderbirds a 61-52 loss Thursday night.
TCU stayed perfect at home in improving to 6-2 on the season while SUU dipped to 1-5.
Heuir hit two free throws with 10:50 to play to give Southern Utah a 38-37 lead, but TCU took the lead back on a Devona Abron layup, then after the Thunderbirds had two chances at a basket on the other end extended the advantage to 41-38 on a pair of Abron free throws with 9:19 to play.
That series started what turned out to be an 8-0 Horned Frog run, and although SUU back within five several times, the last at 52-47 on a Cheesman tip in with 2:17 to play, the Thunderbirds weren't able to get back over the hump.
Heuir hit 7-of-14 shots and 9-of-12 free throws, led the Thunderbirds with three assists and pulled down four rebounds while Jayson Cheesman pulled down a career-high 13 rebounds as SUU out-rebounded the Horned Frogs 36-29 and had their second-lowest turnover total of the season, 14, including just four in the second half.
"In the first half we had 10 turnovers, some of them were aggressive turnovers, a couple of them might have come off some silly fouls that we committed, but in the second half we took care of the basketball with only four turnovers and that helps us," SUU Coach Nick Robinson pointed out. "It keeps us in games and the guys understand that, but still, with turnovers come points off turnovers and they had 11 tonight so it might have been a little bit closer [with fewer turnovers]. You've got to give [TCU] a lot of credit. Defensively they're one of the best in the nation, their length, their athleticism gave us some problems.
"We were physical, [rebounding] was a point of emphasis for us coming in, and I was glad to see Jayson have a good night rebounding the basketball, Cal Hanks and Tyson [Koehler] as well did a good job rebounding the basketball," Robinson added. Cheesman "did a nice job. Obviously we see the production from rebounds and although we'd like to see a few more of his shots go down he did a good job taking care of it but he's a presence defensively, with three blocks tonight he's proven he can play at a very high level."
Koehler came off the bench to score six points and pull down three rebounds while Hanks had a pair of rebounds.
"It's very encouraging, we're making strides," Robinson noted. "Guys were aggressive and that's a positive thing. We've just got to continue to build, continue to take care of the basketball, continue to execute our offense. Shots didn't go down for some guys tonight but I'm not concerned about that because they were good shots; it's not like we were jacking things up, taking bad shots, they just didn't go down."
One player who struggled with his shots was the team's leading scorer coming into the season and into the game, Jackson Stevenett, who finished with just one point, his lowest total since Dec. 18, 2010 when he had just one point at UNLV. Stevenett, who missed the last game with a shoulder strain, was 0-10 from the field and 1-2 from the fre throw line, although he did have two assists, a block and a rebound.
"Jackson didn't see the first couple of shots go through the net and he struggled tonight; a couple of them rimmed in and out, maybe three or four of those shots, and a lot of those were good shots, a lot were contested, but those are shots he's made before," Robinson pointed out. "I'm not worried about that, we had other guys chip in, Jayson was able to get some pretty good looks, Wade [Collie] made a couple of shots for us, and Tyson played extremely well."
Heuir was the only Thunderbird to score in double figures, but Cheesman narrowly missed a double-double with nine points to go with his 13 rebounds, while Koehler had six points and Collie finished with five points and two assists. Cheesman chipped in a pair of assists as well.
Kyan Anderson led TCU with 21 points, including a layup and four straight free throws for TCU's final six points, while Abron finished with 17.
-- SUU --