CEDAR CITY — Southern Utah Thunderbirds men’s basketball once again led in-state rival Utah Valley at half, 39-38, and by as many as 11 early in the first half.

Parsa Fallah led Southern Utah with 19 points and nine rebounds in the loss to Utah Valley University in Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 17, 2024 | Photo courtesy of SUU Athletics, St. George News

In the end, the T-Birds fell short as Zion Young’s three-pointer rimmed out as time expired and the Wolverines held on to win 75-78 on Saturday.

“We have a resilient group. We never give up; I hope that is what our fans see,” Thunderbirds head coach Rob Jeter said. “As far as our pillars go, Faith, Family, Humility, and Discipline, the core of our locker room really understands the Family aspect, which is a factor of the great community support we receive.”

Utah Valley ultimately turned the table and extended their lead to as many as 11 with under 10 minutes to play. As they have done all season, the Thunderbirds battled their way back and brought it to within one with just one minute remaining.

Free throws made by Caleb Stone-Carrawell extended the Wolverine lead to three. Young missed a three at the buzzer and the Thunderbirds fell to 4-11 in Western Athletic Conference play.

Five Thunderbirds reached double-digits on the night, Parsa Fallah leading the team with 19 points and nine rebounds.

Jamari Sibley had his first double-double of the season, scoring 15 points and pulling down 10 rebounds. Braden Housley neared a double-double with 10 points and eight assists. Dominique Ford added 16 points and Young finished with 13. 

The Thunderbirds shot 45% from the field, struggling from three-point range, while making three of their 18 attempts. 

“We can score a lot of points, but it doesn’t do us any good if we can’t get any stops,” Jeter said.

Utah Valley beat Southern Utah in their previous conference game this year and evened the series with each team winning 7 games. The Thunderbirds first beat the Wolverines in 2006.

Up Next:

The Thunderbirds play one on the road next week at UT Arlington on Thursday, Feb 22. Tipoff will be at 6 p.m. MT.

Women’s basketball

Southern Utah University women’s basketball earned a hard fought victory against in-state rival Utah Valley in Orem, Utah, Feb. 17, 2024 | Photo courtesy of SUU Athletics, St. George News

OREM — The Southern Utah University women’s basketball team earned a hard fought victory against in-state rival Utah Valley in double overtime on Saturday. The Thunderbirds improve to 7-17 overall and 5-10 in Western Athletic Conference play, while the Wolverines fall to 9-15 and 4-11.

“I’m just really proud of our grit,” Thunderbird head coach Tracy Mason said. “You could tell we had some pretty exhausted bodies out there. It wasn’t the prettiest but we made plays and executed the game plan down the stretch.”

Utah Valley jumped out to a 4-0 lead to begin the game. Then, Daylani Ballena added four points to fuel an 11-3 sprint to help the Thunderbirds take an 11-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Wolverines used a 10-2 stretch to start the second period to go up 17-13 with 4:01 on the clock. Ballena scored the next five points for SUU to retake the lead, 18-17. Alexa Lord rounded out a 7-0 burst with a baseline jumper with only one second remaining to give the Thunderbirds a 20-17 advantage at the break.

Utah Valley outscored the Thunderbirds 28-11 in the third quarter to go up 45-31 heading into the final quarter.

The Thunderbirds stormed back in the fourth quarter, with Samantha Johnston pouring in 10 points to fuel a 20-9 run that trimmed the lead to three, 54-51, with 42 seconds on the clock. Johnston stayed hot from behind the arc as she drilled a three pointer with only seven seconds remaining to tie the game 54-54 at the end of regulation.

Double Overtime

Utah Valley scored the first six points of the extra period, taking a 60-54 lead with 2:06 left. The Thunderbirds were able to get to the charity stripe, where they converted on six straight free throws to tie the game at 60 apiece and set up a second overtime period.

The two squads traded buckets as the score was tied at 64-64 with 3:04 left in the period. Johnston earned a trip to the line where she split a pair of free throws to push SUU in front 65-64 with 1:33 left. With less than a minute remaining, Ballena connected on a jumper to give the Thunderbirds a 67-64 advantage.

The Wolverines scored a layup to get within a single point, yet the T-Birds held defensively for the 67-66 victory.

T-Bird Leaders

Southern Utah won the rebounding war 52-38. The ‘Birds amassed 13 blocks compared to four for the Wolverines.

Samantha Johnston powered the Thunderbirds’ offense with 20 points on 5-11 shooting from the field. Johnston came up big on the defensive end as well, registering a career-high five blocks. Ava Uhrich scored 15 points and pulled down eight rebounds.

Daylani Ballena chipped in 15 points and a team-high seven assists and two steals. Ashley Banks corralled a career-high 13 rebounds to go along with four points and four blocks.

Up Next:

Southern Utah returns to Cedar City to host UT Arlington on Wednesday, Feb. 21. The game is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. MT at the America First Credit Union arena at SUU.

Written by Regan Hunsaker and Parker Haynie, Southern Utah University Athletics Communications

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