CEDAR CITY, Utah, Feb. 2 – Damon Heuir scored 27 points and Jackson Stevenett added a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead Southern Utah past Northern Arizona 78-67 on Saturday.
The Thunderbirds took an 11-8 lead on a Heuir 3-pointer with 15:03 to play and never trailed again in earning their fourth-straight win to improve to 7-5 in the Big Sky and 9-12 overall. The Lumberjacks dipped to 4-7 in conference play and 7-14 overall.
“We came out with much more energy and concentration in the first half tonight,” stated SUU head coach Nick Robinson. “We were able to build a 15 point lead and then maintain the momentum.”
Heuir scored seven points in the first seven minutes to help the Thunderbirds build a 17-11 advantage. The senior guard then added a three and a transition layup to extend the lead to 28-15 halfway through the period.
Southern Utah increased the margin to 35-18 on another make from the outside for Heuir after holding the Lumberjacks scoreless for nearly three minutes. NAU would bounce back with a 14-5 run in the closing minutes of the half to trail 40-32 at the break.
Heuir finished with 18 points in the first half after hitting 3-of-5 3-point attempts. Max Jacobsen led the visitors with 11 first half points on 5-6 shooting. SUU held a 23-11 advantage on the boards and shot 46.7 percent from the floor to start the game.
Northern Arizona connected on four of its first five shots in the second half to cut the deficit to 44-40 on a driving layup from Stallon Saldivar. Stevenett gave the Thunderbirds some cushion with four quick points and Heuir added another transition lay-in to extend the lead back to ten at 55-45 halfway through the period.
The Lumberjacks worked to chip away at the margin in the closing minutes, but Heuir and Stevenett answered each try with a score to help the Thunderbirds secure the 78-67 win.
Heuir's 27 points followed his 28-point performance against Sacramento State on Thursday night. Jordan Johnson dished out a career high seven assists. NAU got 17 points from Jacobsen while Salvidar led the way for the ‘Jacks with 12 boards.
“Damon got off to a great start. In the first half he was able to get to the foul line and then made some big shots in the second half,” commented Robinson. “He was aggressive and he did a good job of taking care of the ball.”
Southern Utah held a 39-34 rebounding advantage in the contest and outshot the Lumberjacks 45.5 percent to 43.6 percent. The Thunderbirds also recorded seven steals, which they turned into 15 fast break points and 19 points off turnovers.
SUU takes to the road for its next four games, starting with a trip to Idaho State next Thursday. The rematch with the Bengals is set to get underway at 7:05 p.m. Coverage of the game is available at www.suutbirds.com.