Courtesy: SUU Media Relations
CEDAR CITY, Utah Dec. 29 – Southern Utah scored the final seven points of the game to come up with a 51-50 win over Northern Colorado on Saturday night. The Thunderbirds trailed throughout most of the second half, but came back to win behind 14 points from senior Jackson Stevenett to improve to 2-0 in Big Sky play and 4-7 on the season. UNC drops to 1-1 in conference play and 3-7 overall.
“This was a big win for us,” stated SUU head coach Nick Robinson. “These were two good teams going at it. Northern Colorado is a good basketball team and we were fortunate to come away with the win.”
It was tough going for both sides on the offensive end in the early going, but Southern Utah held onto an 11-7 edge halfway through the opening period after Jordan Johnson scored a lay-up for his first two points of the night.
The Bears then rallied with a 10-2 run to go up 17-13 on a three-pointer from Tate Unruh. Wade Collie and Stevenett put in back-to-back layups as Southern Utah came back to tie the score at 17.
Collie connected on a three to bring the score level again with less than two minutes to play in the period, but the UNC notched the final five points of the half to take a 27-22 lead into the break.
Collie had seven points to lead Southern Utah in the early going, which shot 34.5 percent from the field as a team. Tim Huskisson put up seven for the Bears who shot 36.7 percent to start the game.
The Thunderbirds outscored Northern Colorado 7-4 over the first five minutes of the second period to pull within a basket at 31-29. It would be Johnson working inside again for a lay-up to make it a two-point game near the 14-minute mark.
Emmanuel Ado then hit a shot from the top of the arc and UNC added four-straight from the foul line to take a 38-31 lead. The next five minutes belonged to the Thunderbirds however as SUU used a 11-4 run to battle back and set Collie up for a game-tying three that brought the score even at 42-42.
Northern Colorado came up with the next three baskets to go up by six before the two sides traded scores to set the count at 50-44 in favor of the Bears with just over three minutes left on the clock.
A pair of free throws from Stevenett and a lay-up for AJ Hess would then make it a two-point game. The Thunderbirds eventually got the ball back, still down by two, when Stevenett earned another trip to the foul line where he hit his second attempt after missing the first.
The Bears took the ball back up by one with 32 seconds left to play. Ado would get a good look inside, but Johnson was there to make a big block to get the ball back to SUU. The Thunderbirds quickly drove up the court and Heuir fired up a shot that rimmed out and possession went back to the visitors.
Following a timeout, UNC took the ball out of bounds underneath the Southern Utah basket. The T-Bird defense applied tight pressure and Hess was able to get a hand on the inbounds pass, deflecting the ball to Collie. He took it right to the rim for a lay-up and SUU took its first lead of the second half with the score at 51-50 with 14 seconds remaining. Tevin Svihovec took one last shot for Northern Colorado, but his attempt bounced off the rim and Johnson secured the rebound as time expired to seal the win for the Thunderbirds.
“We were able to come up with a big run from that small lineup at the end,” commented Robinson. “This is the first time we have battled through the second half and playing a complete game helped us get the win.”
Southern Utah shot 33.9 percent from the floor in the game, while the Bears finished with a mark of 38 percent. The Thunderbirds controlled the boards, outrebounding their opponents by a total count of 45-32, 18 of which came on the offensive end.
In addition to Stevenett’s 14, SUU got another 13 from Collie and eight from Jayson Cheesman who was also the team’s top rebounder with eight boards. Derrick Barden led UNC with 12 and Addo chipped in 10 more.
The Thunderbirds will take to the road in conference play for its next two games with stops scheduled at Northern Arizona and Sacramento State. SUU will take the court against the Lumberjacks next Saturday at 3 p.m. before visiting the Hornets the following Monday at 5 p.m. (MT)
Sat. Mar. 8
vs. Northern Colorado
(L) 52 -77
Thu. Mar. 6
vs. North Dakota
(W) 77 -71
Sat. Mar. 1
(L) 54 -82
Thu. Feb. 27
@ Montana State
(L) 72 -77
Sat. Feb. 22
vs. Eastern Washington
(L) 74 -85
Thu. Feb. 20
vs. Portland State
(L) 79 -86
Thu. Mar. 13
Big Sky Tournament