It’s a rare sight when a basketball team doesn’t hit a three point shot during a game. It’s even more rare to when it happens twice in one season.
When Southern Utah women’s basketball traveled to Greeley, Colorado and downed the Northern Colorado Bears 68-55 in overtime, the Bears went 0-16 from three point range.
Fast forward two weeks and the T-Birds kept the Bears from making a single three point shot. This time they were downed in Cedar City by the T-Birds 64-50 in regulation. The Bears shot 0-12 from three point territory.
“I think we only gave up back-to-back baskets one time where we didn’t have a stop in between,” SUU head coach Tracy Sanders said after the game. “Defensively, I thought we played well tonight.”
Normally when teams fail to hit the outside shot, they work the ball down into the post for a higher percentage shot. The Bears had a height advantage and an on-paper advantage inside. However, SUU had other plans for their opponents.
Freshman forward Alisha Davis scored 13 points for the Bears in the first half, helping her team keep up in a tight contest with the T-Birds. In the second half, she scored zero points. T-Bird forwards Darri Frandsen and Jessica Chatman forced Davis into foul trouble and blocked three of her shots, effectively eliminating her from the game.
“[Frandsen] has been playing really well,” said Sanders. “She’s just continuing to improve and get more comfortable. I thought she did an awesome job on [Davis].”
Frandsen had a smile on her face the entire game. Whether defending just outside the paint, getting a momentum-swinging block or getting called for her only foul, Frandsen never let her positivity waiver.
“To me, [positivity] almost feels like a game,” Frandsen said. “If they just come at me and plow me over sometimes, I’m like, ‘Alright, let’s go. It’s started…’ I feel like I just naturally have a smile and so that almost frustrates the other team a little bit.”
Positivity became a theme for the T-Birds all night. After taking a 36-29 lead at the half, SUU started the third quarter with some costly turnovers. Thankfully, the T-Birds never let the Bears get closer than six.
“I think we got antsy to push sometimes when maybe we should have held back a little bit,” Sanders said. “We had some turnovers that we don’t usually have. But that’s part of trying to play a more uptempo game”
Senior guard Rebecca Cardenas took it upon herself to cut down turnovers and did so by motivating her team. The team captain could be seen reacting on the bench to with each forced UNC turnover. Later in the game, she gave a flex to cameras in the America First Event Center.
Earlier in the week, Cardenas received word that she needed to report for a random drug test, something she had wanted before the season started. She joked about finally getting her wish after the game.
“My pride was a little bit up that day,” Cardenas said. “I think they just see my guns now. I’m not a little freshman no more.”
Cardenas notched 18 points on the night and almost recorded a triple double, finishing with nine rebounds and six assists. Frandsen finished the night with 11 points, three rebounds and two blocks off the bench. Shalyn Fano finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
Davis led the Bears with 13 points on the night, while Alexis Chapman scored 11 points in 31 minutes.
The win moves the T-Birds to 14-10 overall and 8-7 in Big Sky Conference Play. The team now sits alone in sixth place in the conference, one game back of Montana and a pivotal first-round bye in the Big Sky Tournament.
SUU will be back in action on Saturday Feb. 22 when they take on rival Weber State in the America First Event Center. WSU is currently last in the Big Sky with a 1-15 record in conference play.
Story by: Kurt Meacham
Photo by: SUU Athletics