RENO, Nev., Nov. 16 -- Southern Utah improved considerably from game one to game two, but unfortunately for the Thunderbirds the result was a loss as the Thunderbirds got down early and spent the rest of the game playing catch-up in a 66-54 loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay in the first round of the World Vision Classic on Thursday night. SUU dipped to 0-2 on the young season while Green Bay stayed undefeated at 2-0.
Green Bay went on a 12-0 first-half run to torn an 11-8 game into a 23-8 contest, and although the Thunderbirds got back to within seven, at 25-18 on a 3-pointer by Jackson Stevenett with 4:42 to play in the half, the Phoenix pushed the lead back to 10, 34-24, at halftime.
The game remained an 8-to-12 point affair through most of the rest of the game, with SUU consistently cutting into the lead but never able to completely climb back into the game.
Neither team shot the ball particularly well, as SUU finished 19-of-55 from the floor, 34.5 percent, while UWGB was only marginally better, at 26-of-69, 37.7 percent, although both teams shot 40 percent after halftime.
"Earlier on I didn't think we made the shots we normally make, in practice and in our other games," SUU Coach Nick Robinson said. "For the most part we executed tonight. We worked hard, we set screens, we got good looks, they just didn't go down tonight.
After giving it away 28 times in the opener at Gonzaga the Thunderbirds committed just 13 on Thursday, still too many in the eyes of the coach but a definite improvement.
"We improved. We only gave up six transition points and instead of 28 turnovers we only had 13," Robinson pointed out.
"We definitely improved as a team, in terms of taking care of the basketball tonight, although it's still something we need to continue to improve on," he added. "They were able to score 15 points on our turnovers; when we can get better at taking care of the ball we'll cut down on our opponents' opportunities to score the ball."
The Thunderbirds were led by Stevenett, who finished with 15 points and was the only Thunderbird in double-figures. Damon Heuir chipped in eight while freshman A.J. Hess came off the bench to score seven points. Wade Collie led the team in both rebounds, with eight, and assists, with five while Jayson Cheesman blocked a pair of shots.
Green Bay had a potent inside-outside game, with big men Alec Brown and Brennan Cougill scoring 17 points apiece while guards Keifer Sykes and Carrington Love had 13 and 11, respectively. Brown also pulled down 13 rebounds and blocked three shots while Cougill had 10 boards and two blocks.
SUU plays game-two of the three-game tournament Saturday when the Thunderbirds take on Cal State Fullerton at 8:30 p.m. (PST).
-- SUU --