CEDAR CITY, Utah — The Thunderbird men’s basketball team suffered their second Big Sky Conference home loss of the season on Thursday evening, as they fell to the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona 75-72.
“We were a step slow today, especially defensively,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said. “On the glass we were just in the mud a little bit. We had too many turnovers. Just kind of a sloppy game on our behalf. We’ve been battling the flu a little bit, and we kind of went light the last few days, and I think maybe that was a little bit of a byproduct of how sloppy we looked.”
With the loss SUU sits at 10-6 on the season and 3-2 in Big Sky play.
The Lumberjacks jumped out to an early 8-1 lead, but the T-Birds quickly responded with a massive 14-0 run to take control with just under 10 minutes elapsed off the game clock.
As the opening half went on, SUU found their stroke from behind the three-point line and built their lead to as many as 12. They took a 45-36 advantage into the halftime break.
Cameron Oluyitan finished the opening half with 22 points, hitting 5-of-7 from behind the three-point line.
Turnovers doomed the Thunderbirds in the second half. The T-Birds gave the ball up to NAU on 11 different possessions, and the Lumberjacks scored 12 points off those turnovers.
The visitors went on a 9-0 run to retake the lead with under 10 minutes to play, and despite some good opportunities down the stretch, Southern Utah wasn’t able to come all the way back and ultimately fell to their Big Sky rival.
Oluyitan finished the game with 22 points and didn’t get a shot up in the second half.
“We were trying to get him shots, and some of the things they took away, and a few of those possessions we had turnovers and we weren’t able to execute,” Simon said. “But they did a good job in that second half, and we’ve got to find ways to keep him going.”
John Knight III finished the game with 18 points and team-high seven rebounds.
The T-Birds shot 54 percent for the contest, and held the Lumberjacks to 45 percent from the field.
Bernia Andre and Cameron Shelton were the top scorers for NAU, dropping in 19 apiece.
NAU finished the game with 19 points off SUU turnovers.
The Thunderbirds will be back on the floor in the America First Event Center on Saturday, as they’ll play host to the Sacramento State Hornets at 1 p.m. MT.
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Story and photo by SUU Athletics