ABILENE, Texas — Southern Utah Univerity men’s basketball went on the road to Texas for a two-game trip. They are returning home with two massive Western Athletic Conference victories, earning an 82-67 win over the Wildcats of Abilene Christian on Saturday.

Southern Utah University men’s basketball earned a 82-67 win over the Wildcats of Abilene Christian, Abilene, Texas, Jan. 27, 2024 | Photo courtesy SUU Athletics, St. George News

Coupled with the win on Thursday, the Thunderbirds won back-to-back conference games for the first time this season and improved to 8-12 overall and 3-6 in conference play. 

“It’s never easy to get wins in this conference, much less road wins, in this conference,” Thunderbird coach Rob Jeter said. “So to go 2-0 on this road trip feels really good.”

The Thunderbirds didn’t lead in the game against the Wildcats until the 9:01 mark in the second half. After taking their first lead 52-51, SUU went on a 30-16 run to close the game and seal a 15-point victory. 

Four players scored in double-digits for the Thunderbirds. Dominique Ford — who has now scored at least 20 points in five straight contests — finished the game with 23 points going 8-13 from the field, with five rebounds and two steals. 

Braden Housley added 18 points, including 2-3 from deep. Zion Young chipped in 17 points on 6-11 from the field. 

Jamari Sibley scored 15 points on 6-8 from the field, pulling down a team-high seven rebounds, dishing three assists and two blocks and two steals.

The Thunderbirds shot a scorching 59% from the field, including 72% in the second half. From three-point range, the T-Birds shot 46% taking only 11 attempts. SUU held ACU to 42% from the field and 25% from three. The T-Bird defense also had five blocked shots — three from Chazz Hutchinson in only 13 minutes — compared to just two for Abilene. 

“We really locked in on the defensive side of the ball; holding them under a point per possession is always the goal, and we accomplished that tonight,” Jeter added.

Up Next:

Southern Utah will play in Cedar City against University of Texas Arlington on Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m. M.T.

Thunderbird women

Southern Utah’s Ava Uhrich scored a career-high 25 points to propel the Thunderbirds past Abilene Christian 82-80 in Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 27, 2024 | Photo courtesy SUU Athletics, St. George News

In Cedar City, Ava Uhrich scored a career-high 25 points to propel the Southern Utah University women’s basketball team past Abilene Christian 82-80 on Saturday.

The Thunderbirds improve to 5-13 overall and 3-6 in Western Athletic Conference play, while the Wildcats drop to 8-10 and 4-5 in WAC play.

“I’m really proud of our performance today,” Thunderbird coach Tracy Mason said. “Things got a little crazy there at the end, but we worked hard, were confident and I think we deserved to win.”

Uhrich was phenomenal for SUU, performing a double-double with 25 points and 12 rebounds. This marks Uhrich’s sixth double-double of the season and her fifth in WAC play. Samantha Johnston set a new season-high with 17 points, including five makes from behind the arc.

Daylani Ballena added 15 points to go along with a team-high five assists. Alexa Lord was the fourth T-Bird to reach double-figure scoring, adding 11 points on 5-9 shooting from the field. Shiho Isono provided a spark off the bench, adding nine points, three assists and two rebounds in 28 minutes of action.

Southern Utah dominated the glass, winning the rebounding war 33-26. The Thunderbirds knocked down a season-best 10 three pointers on 47.6 percent shooting from downtown.

In a mostly tight game, Johnston and Ballena combined for 10 points in the period to give SUU a 72-61 lead approaching the final period of play. Abilene Christian then came out hot in the fourth quarter, using a 19-7 run to take a 80-79 lead with 1:45 remaining in the game.

Southern Utah’s Uhrich delivered a layup to retake the lead with less than a minute remaining. After Ashley Banks came up with a steal on the defensive end, Uhrich split a pair of free throws to push SUU in front 82-80 with six seconds left.

Johnston rejected a three-point attempt from the Wildcats to secure a 82-80 victory for Southern Utah.

Up Next:

The Thunderbirds will head to Texas to take on University of Texas Arlington on Feb. 1. The game is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. M.T.

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