CHENEY, Wash. — For the first time since 1992, the Thunderbird men’s basketball team won a game in Cheney, Wash., as they knocked off the Eagles of Eastern Washington University, 99-94.
“I’m just proud of our guys, we kind of had a different game plan from Thursday and our guys stayed really disciplined and executed it,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said. “We thought we took one heck of a punch from Eastern Washington. They do such a great job, and they’ll be tough for anybody to beat and our guys just stayed the course and kept battling.”
With the victory, the Thunderbirds move to 10-2 on the season with a 5-1 mark in the Big Sky Conference.
Scoring came easy for both teams in the opening 20 minutes. In the first half, Southern Utah shot 61 percent from the field and went 9-of-11 from the free-throw line. On the other side, the Eagles hit 10 triples. It was very tight in the opening frame, as six points was the largest lead for either team.
Eastern Washngton closed out the opening half on a 6-0 run to take a 49-47 advantage into the locker room.
Aanen Moody had 14 points at the break, while Tevian Jones had 10 in the opening frame. Kim Aiken Jr. had 19 points for the Eagles in the first 20 minutes.
EWU’s success behind the three-point line continued into the second half, as they hit four more in the opening five minutes. The Eagles built a 10-point lead, their largest of the contest to that point, with 15:58 to play.
With 13:24 to play, the T-Birds trailed by nine following a Jacob Davison triple. Over the next five minutes the Thunderbirds went on a 12-0 run, capped off by a jumper by Tevian Jones, to take a 72-69 lead.
“We just had to regroup right there,” Simon said. “They got out in transition, which was an emphasis for us, and we’ve just got to be a little more attentive. When they catch fire they score in bunches.”
With under two and a half minutes the Thunderbirds made eight consecutive free throws, thwarting any attempt the Eagles had at making a comeback.
The T-Birds ended up outsourcing the Eagles 52-45 in the second half.
Jones continued his stellar season with 27 points, and shot 10-of-10 from the free throw line for the Thunderbirds.
John Knight III had a massive second half for the Thunderbirds to finish with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field.
Moody finished with 14 points, while Dre Marin and Maizen Fausett both finished the contest with 12. Fausett secured nine rebounds in the game, while Marin had eight boards to match his career high.
Southern Utah hit 30-of-34 free throws, finishing the game with an 88% mark on the stat sheet.
“We always talk about how free throws and rebounding are going to win championships, and today felt like a tournament game,” Simon said. “The intensity was there, and we hit 88 percent of our free throws, which is going to win you games.”
The Thunderbirds outscored the Eagles 38-22 in the paint, and SUU’s bench outscored the Eagles bench 21-5.
The Eagles finished the game 19-of-43 from behind the three-point line. Jacob Davison was the leading scorer for EWU, finishing with 31 points.
Southern Utah’s 99 points was their highest offensive output of the season so far.
The contest featured 10 ties and 15 lead changes over the entire 40 minutes.
Southern Utah will continue their Big Sky slate next weekend with a home-and-home against the Weber State Wildcats. The first contest will be in Ogden and the second will take place in Cedar City.
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