In SUU women’s basketball’s 82-64 loss to Sacramento State on Thursday, Feb. 13, head coach Tracy Sanders was not was not in a smiling mood. Her team got beat handily thanks in part to a second half surge by the Hornets and some questionable calls.
Instead of wallowing in the loss, Sanders led an intense practice and film session on Friday to prepare her team for their home game against Northern Arizona. The preparation showed as the Thunderbirds used a second half surge of their own to beat the Lumberjacks 82-64 on Saturday Feb. 15.
“It’s not the will to win that matters – everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters” — Quick turnaround from Thursday…Prep work yesterday was 💯 and today they came out with a Mamba Mentality and played SUU basketball for 40min ✊🏼 #DoMoreSayLess https://t.co/JVaxhLHhqc
— Jay Johnson (@JGJ3695) February 16, 2020
Sanders relied on senior guards Harley Hansen and Rebecca Cardenas to set the tone for the team. With the T-Birds coming out of halftime with a slim 37-32 lead, the pair took over the game.
After only scoring seven points in the first half, Hansen caught fire, scoring 16 points, including 3-3 from three point range. Cardenas, the only other T-Bird to score in the quarter, had six points on four free throws.
NAU deployed a full court press after seeing the T-Birds struggle against Sac State on Thursday. However, Cardenas and sophomore guard Claudia Armato constantly broke the press, leading to easy buckets throughout the third quarter.
oh…well….that was filthy 🥶 pic.twitter.com/UV1EIffeT7
— SUU W. Basketball 🏀 (@SUUWBasketball) February 15, 2020
Cardenas also caused problems on the defensive end, finishing the night with eight steals for the second time in her career. As a team, the T-Birds forced 24 turnovers, the most since forcing UNLV to turn the ball over 26 times earlier this year.
Hansen and Cardenas cooled off in the fourth quarter, allowing the Lumberjacks to pull within 10 points after Khiarica Rasheed hit a layup with 7:24 left in the game. The T-Birds would never let NAU get closer as they held the Lumberjacks without a field goal for the rest of the game closing the fourth quarter on a 17-9 run.
Saturday’s win was a career night for Hansen, who posted a season-high 27 points on 11-22 shooting, setting career highs in makes and attempts.
Comeback game 🤐
— rc (@pointguardbecs) February 16, 2020
Cardenas continued her quest for Big Sky First Team status, posting an impressive 19 points, six rebounds, four assists and eight steals. Junior forward Darri Frandsen provided a spark off the bench for the T-Birds, scoring seven points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Rasheed led the Lumberjacks in scoring on the night, scoring 21 points and grabbing eight rebounds. Jacey Bailey was the only other Lumberjack to score in double figures as she went for 17 points in 35 minutes.
The win moves the T-Birds to 13-10 overall and 7-7 in the Big Sky Conference, their best mark since 2013-14 when they went 15-5 and won a share of the Regular Season Championship. The team is now a game and a half back of Idaho State and Montana, who are tied for fourth place in the conference.
The team will be back in action on Thursday Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m in the America First Event Center when they take on Northern Colorado. The T-Birds won the last matchup between the teams on Thursday, Feb. 6 when they went to Greeley, Colo. and beat the Bears 68-55 in overtime.
Story by: Kurt Meacham
Photo by: SUU Athletics