Southern Utah University women’s basketball stretched their lead to 14 points early in the fourth quarter thanks to a Shalyn Fano jumper, putting the T-Birds up 59-45. They wound up winning the game by three points.
Eastern Washington University mounted a comeback where they outscored the visiting T-Birds 22-9 over the next seven minutes. With the Eagles down 68-67, T-Bird senior guard Rebecca Cardenas hit two free throws with seven seconds left to seal the game for the T-Birds 70-67.
SUU started slow, only mustering eight points in the opening quarter while connecting on only two field goal attempts. The tides changed in the second quarter as the Eagles could only manage eight points of their own. SUU scored 18 points of their own to take a 26-22 lead at halftime.
Throughout the second and third quarters, the T-Birds put together a 15-0 run, giving them a 30-22 lead at the eight minute mark in the third. Eastern Washington kept the game close, only trailing by 10 going into the fourth quarter.
After Fano’s shot to push the lead to 14, the Eagles forced eight turnovers over the course of their late-game comeback. Eastern Washington sophomore guard Grace Kirscher attempted to tie the game with a three point shot at the buzzer, but fell short of keeping the game alive.
All five starters for the T-Birds scored in double figures with Fano leading the way at 15 points to go along with 10 rebounds. Cardenas flirted with a triple-double, notching 12 points, nine rebounds and six assists while playing all 40 minutes.
Sophomore center Bella Cravens led the way for the Eagles, scoring 20 points and pulling down 16 rebounds. Freshman Kennedy Dickie scored a career high 20 points in addition to her seven rebounds.
SUU has now doubled their win total from last season, moving to 16-10 overall with the win. With a minimum of five games left in the season, the team also clinched their first winning record since the 2013-14 season when they went 23-10. They also have a 10-7 record in conference play, tying them for fifth place with the Montana Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies beat Northern Arizona 70-57 and currently hold the tiebreaker over the T-Birds due to their win earlier in the season. SUU and Montana will play in Cedar City on March 7 for the final game of the regular season.
For now, the T-Birds travel to Moscow, Idaho to take on the second place Idaho Vandals. That game will be on Saturday, February 29 at 2 p.m. on Pluto TV.
Story by: Kurt Meacham
Photo by: Mitchell Quartz