CEDAR CITY, Utah – Head coach Tracy Sanders will open her second season at the helm of the Southern Utah women’s basketball team in just under two days time and with it comes a full year of experience, four senior leaders, and the return of the Big Sky Conference Top Reserve Player from 2016-17.
2018-19 At a Glance
Last season, the Lady T-Birds won five more games than they had in the previous season including huge wins over BYU and the University of San Diego and their first Big Sky Conference Tournament win since 2013-14, beating Montana 64-56 in the opening round.
Rebecca Cardenas led the Big Sky in three-point field goal percentage, dropping them in at a rate of 44.6 percent. Both Cardenas and Harley Hansen finished top-10 in the conference in steals with Hansen making steals at the third-best rate in the Big Sky and Cardenas coming in at seventh.
As a team, the Thunderbirds had the second-best turnover margin in the Big Sky with a +0.87 differential. They were also second in the conference in offensive rebounding (12.8 per game), third in steals (8.1 per game), and had the fourth-best three-point field goal percentage defense, holding teams to a .313 percentage from deep.
New Faces On the Court
Six new Thunderbirds join the roster ahead of the 2019-2020 including five freshmen and one junior transfer. Rebecca Black comes to Cedar City from the University of San Francisco where she spent two seasons and averaged 2.3 points per game in eight games for the Dons before suffering an injury. All five freshmen come from the state of Utah: Halle Livingston from Millville, Shalyn Fano from Spanish Fork, Madelyn Eaton from Highland, Margarita Satini from Salt Lake City, and Alexa Lord from Richfield.
Junior Darri Frandsen will return to the team with two seasons of eligibility left after taking two seasons off to serve an LDS mission. During her sophomore season in 2016-17, Frandsen averaged 12.5 points per game, eight rebounds per game, and led the Big Sky in offensive rebounding at 3.5 per game. Frandsen had 11 double-doubles throughout the season and was named the Big Sky’s Top Reserve Player for her performance off the bench for the T-Birds.
The Lady T-Birds will open their season on Friday when they host Ottawa University for an exhibition game.
Their regular season opener will be against Cal State Fullerton inside the America First Event Center on November 7. The Titans finished the 2018-19 season with a 14-16 overall record and were sixth in the Big West. Last year the Thunderbirds opened at home against the University of San Diego and picked up a 69-59 win.
The Thunderbirds will then hit the road for games against WAC foes Utah Valley and Grand Canyon University. Then on November 19 UNLV will come to Cedar City for a matchup with the Lady T-Birds. This will be the first time the two teams have met since the 2015-16 season and the first time the Rebels have traveled north since 2014-15.
Southern Utah will then travel to Corvallis, Oregon to take on Pac-12 opponent Oregon State University before returning home to host Oral Roberts on December 3 and UC Irvine on December 6. The Thunderbirds lost to both teams on the road during the 2018-19 season and will be looking to flip the script this year inside the AFEC.
The Lady T-Birds will then round out their non-conference schedule with rematches against the University of Denver on the road and UC Riverside at home.
Big Sky Conference play begins on December 30 at home against reigning Big Sky Tournament Champions Portland State.
Scouting Report: Ottawa Arizona Spirit (1-0)
The Spirit started their season on Monday with a 83-66 win over Park University. Junior Kirsten Shinske led the team with 27 points in the victory. Sophomore Taylor Davis had 10 rebounds and five steals.
The Spirit finished the 2018-19 season with a 10-15 record and a 4-14 record in the Golden State Athletic Conference.
Friday’s game is set to tip off at 6:30 p.m. inside the AFEC. Admission is free to all fans.
The game will be streamed live on PlutoTV channel 536 and live stats will be available at tbirdstats.com.
Stay up to date during the 2019-20 Lady T-Bird Basketball season by following @SUUWBasketball on Twitter and Instagram and liking the Southern Utah Women’s Basketball page on Facebook.
Story and photo by: Kyle Birnbrauer of SUU Athletics