Leading by 23 points in the second half gives most basketball teams room to relax. After Idaho Vandals guard Beyonce Bea hit a jumper in the third quarter, she gave her team a 48-25 lead.
Room to relax right? Wrong.
Southern Utah University women’s basketball went on a 22-1 run that stretched into the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to 49-47. However, the comeback attempt fell just short as the T-Birds would go on to lose 70-57, ending their five-game winning streak.
“I told [my team], ‘[SUU is] not gonna quit,’” said Vandals head coach Jon Newlee. “[SUU] plays hard. They always play hard. When you have a player like [Rebecca] Cardenas on your team, you always have a chance.”
After a first quarter that saw Idaho lead SUU 20-15, the Vandals stepped up their defense and only allowed four points in the second quarter. The T-Birds shot 2-10 from the field in the quarter and went into halftime trailing 34-19.
The Vandals went on a 12-6 run before T-Birds head coach Tracy Sanders called timeout. After talking with her team, Bea hit her shot to give Idaho the 23 point lead. That’s when Cardenas took over.
Cardenas scored 15 of the team’s 25 points in the third quarter and recorded four of her five steals while leading the team’s comeback.
“I thought [Cardenas] took [SUU] on her shoulders,” Newlee said. “She single-handedly got them back in the game making steals, making shots, making the right decisions. She’s a heck of a basketball player.”
Newlee calmed down his team in the between the third and fourth quarters as the offense eventually picked back up for the Vandals. After a Cardenas turnover, Bea hit a three point shot that started an 13-6 run, putting the Vandals up 62-53 midway through the fourth quarter.
Both teams stalled on offense over the next four minutes of play before the Vandals shot free throws to ice the game.
Cardenas finished with 25 points, eight rebounds and five steals in the game. She also passed Caitlyn Sears for sixth place on SUU’s all-time scoring list with 1,218 career points. Current assistant coach Hailey Mandelko holds the fifth spot with 1,225 points.
Lizzy Klinker led the Vandals with 23 points while Bea notched 11 points and seven rebounds.
SUU will finish off the season at home with games against Big Sky leader Montana State on Wednesday, March 4 and Senior Night on Friday, March 6 against the Montana Grizzlies.
Story by: Kurt Meacham
Photo by Mitchell Quartz