The Thunderbird men’s basketball team picked up their fifth-straight victory over Grand Canyon rival Northern Arizona on Saturday, as they knocked off the Lumberjacks 63-54.
The victory moves the Thunderbirds to 10-13 on the season and 4-8 in the Big Sky Conference. It’s also SUU’s second victory in a row after knocking off Idaho State last Saturday.
“The guys were excited,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said. “We didn’t have our best stuff offensively in terms of taking care of the ball, but it feels good to win a game where we did it on the defensive end completely. We held them to 27 percent for the game and seven percent from three with only one allowed. Defensive travels, so guys were feeling good and we’re starting to find an identity.”
The opening half was relatively low scoring, with the Thunderbirds shooting 35 percent and the Lumberjacks shooting 33 percent, but it was a three-quarter court heave at the buzzer from Jamal Aytes that gave the Thunderbirds a 30-29 lead at half time.
“In a half where a lot of stuff went wrong, it gave guys a little sigh of relief and we got a little shot in the arm with a break going our way,” Simon said about the shot.
The Thunderbirds were able to hit five triples in the opening half against NAU.
In the second half the T-Birds got much more comfortable. With 11:32 to play in the game they had build a 10 point advantage over the Lumberjacks. Despite NAU cutting SUU’s lead down to as many as two, the T-Birds held the advantage the rest of the way and came out on top with a 63-54 victory.
Brandon Better, James McGee and Aytes let the offensive charge for the Thunderbirds, as Better finished with 13 and the other two finished with 12. Dwayne Morgan finished with 10 points in 26 minutes after fouling out of the contest.
Aytes (9), Morgan (7) and Dre Marin (7) were huge on the glass for Southern Utah throughout the contest.
The Thunderbirds shot 44 percent from three in the contest (8-of-18), compared to NAU’s seven percent (1-of-14).
Corey Brown was NAU’s offensive leader, finishing the game with 14 points and six rebounds.
Moving forward the T-Birds will head back out on the road for contests against North Dakota (February 15) and Northern Colorado (February 17).
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Single game tickets for the 2017-18 SUU men’s basketball campaign can be purchased at www.tbirdtickets.com or at the America First Event Center Ticket Office.
SUU Athletics Strategic Communications