The Thunderbird men’s basketball team picked up their first road victory of the 2017-18 campaign on Wednesday night, knocking off the Pepperdine Waves in Malibu, California 88-82.
“It was a tough victory, the guys showed a lot of toughness and resiliency,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said.
This was Southern Utah’s first victory against a current member of the West Coast Conference since before the turn of the century.
The victory moves the Thunderbirds to .500 on the season, as they’ll return to the America First Event Center 3-3.
The Waves got out to a fairly fast start at home, but the Thunderbirds quickly countered with a 14-2 run to take a 24-18 lead over Pepperdine. The Thunderbirds held the lead until halftime, where they led 35-29.
The second half was a back-and-forth battle, and the T-Birds lost both Ivan Madunic and Christian Musoko down the stretch due to foul trouble, but some big three point shots by Dre Marin and clutch free throw shooting in the final minutes proved to be the difference as the Thunderbirds left Malibu with the victory.
“Dre’s done that in practice throughout, and obviously he’s had some injury issues, but we knew he’d answer the bell and be the Dre that we know,” Simon said. “He’s going to have such a tremendous future, but he’s already a great player for us.”
Jamal Aytes led the Thunderbirds with 22 points and seven rebounds in the contest. He finished the fight 8-of-10 from the free throw line. Marin scored a career-high 16 points, including four shot from behind the three point line. James McGee had 14 and Jadon Cohee had 11 to continue the offensive attack for the Thunderbirds. Cohee played all but three minutes of the game on Wednesday.
Kameron Edwards was the go-to guy for Pepperdine on Wednesday, finishing the game with a double-double effort of 25 points and 16 rebounds. He was a big reason the Waves kept the game close down the stretch in Firestone Fieldhouse.
“We’re proud of our resiliency and that we’ve developing a team toughness that represents our culture,” Simon said. “Guys are hurt, guys are banged up, but we have different guys stepping up every game and it’s becoming truly a team effort. So to have an opportunity on Saturday to get over .500 into December, which hasn’t happened in quite some time at Southern Utah, is progress that we’re really proud of.”
Southern Utah’s next contest will be at home, when they host San Diego Christian College on Saturday. Tip time for that contest is set for 12:30 p.m.
Read all about the Thunderbirds on www.suutbirds.com.
Season tickets for the 2017-18 SUU men’s basketball campaign can be purchased at tbirdtickets.com or at the America First Event Center Ticket Office.